A little after 5 p.m. Friday at Severna Park High, South River’s Madison Carter and Severna Park’s Eva Klaus stood at the center of the field at attention, sticks aligned, awaiting the whistle signaling the game’s opening faceoff.

When it sounded, they locked sticks, pushed the ball loose, then pursued it and each other, the first moments of a duel that would come to define the game between two longstanding Anne Arundel County rivals.

As the game wore on, Carter and Klaus stayed at the center of the action, matching up on draw controls and trading goals, generals of a back-and-forth battle between two of Anne Arundel County’s finest. By game’s end, the Falcons stood victorious, Klaus’s seven goals sparking an 11-9 victory.

“We’ve been asking [Klaus] in every practice to step up,” Severna Park Coach Carin Peterson said. “Boy, did she do it today.”

Carter struck first, scoring the game’s opening goal to propel the Seahawks as they opened a 3-0 lead. But with 20 seconds left in the first half and trailing 5-3, Klaus fired back with a tide-turning play. She charged nearly the length of the field and scored with one second left for the Falcons (3-0).

“I think the team just came together after that,” Klaus said. “I think we needed to get the energy up, and everyone started cheering and working together. I think that was the turning point.”

And so Carter and Klaus’s shooting match spilled into the second half. Carter charged through traffic and took advantage of shooting space opportunities, tallying three goals to keep South River close despite Severna Park’s second-half barrage.

Carter scored three in the second half and finished with four. Klaus added four in the second half, including a tying tally with eight minutes left and an insurance goal late.

When Carter and the Seahawks (3-2) charged back, Virginia-bound goalie Rachel Vander Kolk turned them away with saves on four solid scoring chances to seal the win.

“South River is way too good a team to think you ever have it in the bag unless you’re up 20-0, and even then you know they’re going to come back,” Vander Kolk said. “You could see, even in those last seconds, two goals down, they wanted it.”

Seahawks win with defense

If Anne Arundel County opponents didn’t know what to expect from a revamped South River boys’ lacrosse squad when this season began, they know after five games: stifling, speedy, lockdown defense.

On a night when sloppiness prevailed for both attacks more often than not, the Seahawks’ defense made five goals stand up, protecting a one-goal lead by holding off several late Severna Park charges on the way to a 5-4 victory.

Through five games, the Seahawks (4-1) have given up an average of fewer than four goals per game, and that defense was forced into crucial action throughout the fourth quarter.

Severna Park (1-4) forced several late turnovers to continually regain possessions and chances to tie, but South River turned in big check after big check, clearing just often enough to make five goals — three from Dylan Mansur — stand up.

“They’ve got a head on them, they know what they’re doing,” Seahawks Coach Paul Noone said of his defense. “They’re in the right place, they’re moving their feet, they’re opening their mouths.

“These guys just play tremendously well together. I love them.”