The trio of Hawks looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders and took in the news.
"Really?" questioned River Hill's Jen Voyton, Katie Arensmeier and Alex Hamer, almost in unison. "We did?"
Then they jumped up and shouted, "Woooo!"
And that was the end of the brief celebration.
All three had scored in River Hill's 5-0 shutout of Centennial Oct. 16. The Hawks had won the game, obviously, but they did not know that their 13th straight win also clinched the county championship, their second straight and fourth for coach Brian Song.
"We thought we had to beat Atholton" in the final game on Oct. 18 to claim the title, said Katie Arensmeier, who scored on a first-half penalty kick against Centennial.
Song had not told his team the significance of the game's outcome.
"I guess he doesn't want us to focus on the fact that we won a county championship. He wants us to focus on each individual game so we don't get overconfident," Arensmeier said.
But "it is a really nice feeling, knowing we have won a county championship," Hamer said.
"We look for the bigger picture," said Song, referring to a state championship. "The kids worked really hard this year. I think the way they ended the season last year was very difficult on the girls. When they came back this year, they really wanted to prove something. I don't think we've talked about counties at all."
River Hill last won a state title in 2008.
River Hill (10-0 in the county) will host Atholton, a 1-0 winner over Long Reach Tuesday, this week in the final regular season game. Entering the week, it was conceivable that Atholton (8-2) could have forced a co-championship with two wins, but River Hill would have to have lost two games, including a loss to Atholton.
Voyton, assisted by Callie Allen, scored 10 minutes into the Centennial game. Michaela Hennessey (Haily Emrick) and Arensmeier (penalty kick) also scored in the first half. Alex Hamer (Voyton) and Sheridan Street (Voyton) put the final touches on the win.
With a title in hand, Thursday's contest with Atholton is unfinished business. Though River Hill won their meeting last year, Atholton pulled a huge upset and eliminated River Hill from the playoffs.
"It's a huge game for us," said Arensmeier. "We are going to come out hard and show them what we got."
The game will be emotional in other ways, said Song, explaining that an Atholton player lost her father this week. "We will pay a tribute to him. A lot of these (River Hill) kids play with (Katrina Macadoff) in club ball. The nice thing about Howard County is that we are very close knit. Even though in the game of soccer we might be rivals, after that we are all friends."
The win over Centennial marked Song’s 120th win since 2005 at River Hill.
One is enough for Atholton
Jenna Brewer scored off a pass from Katrina Macadoff in the first half. That was Atholton’s only tally of the evening, but the Raiders made it hold up in a 1-0 win over Long Reach.
Atholton “did a great job passing the ball around in the midfield. They played high quality soccer throughout” the game, said Long Reach coach Erik Sandersen. “They played strong defense and got some quality goalkeeping to preserve the lead.”