It was the first highly anticipated game of the season, 2011 state finalist Mt. Hebron against the 2010 state champion River Hill. Every time they meet it's sure to be a good game and Tuesday was no different. This time River Hill's Kat Varga was able to execute two penalty opportunities to put the Hawks ahead.
Her game-winning goal came on a penalty stroke in the second half.
Mt. Hebron started strong, shoving the ball into the backfield off the initial center pass. The Vikings were able to draw a corner in the first minute and another off of that.
The Vikings put a straight shot in, saved by River Hill keeper Sierra Kelly. Mt. Hebron senior Samantha Brookhart collected the rebound and sent it to Haley Sutton who shot and scored for the first goal of the game less than two minutes in.
Mt. Hebron continued to pressure, but River Hill began to pressure back. The Hawks carried the ball down into their offensive circle where they were able to draw a corner. A quick insert came out to Varga, she controlled it, dodged two defenders and hammered the ball to the back of the cage.
Mt. Hebron fought back, but a diving save from Kelly and a defensive save from Kendall Thielemann kept the game at a 1-1 standstill at half.
River Hill seemed to have found the fire they were looking for in the second half.
"It was an evenly matched game, we knew it was going to be tight" River Hill's Kelly explained. And tight it was.
At 15 minutes, the Hawks had possession and were coming into the circle from the top left. The ball lifted and Mt. Hebron's Monica Linn reacted lifting her stick to stop the ball. A stick lifted over the head is an automatic yellow card.
Furthermore, the ball was traveling toward goal and therefore River Hill was awarded a penalty stroke. Up steps Varga. Her hard, well-placed shot proved to be the game winner as it put the Hawks ahead, 2-1.
Mt. Hebron had a chance to even the tally when a corner was awarded with 26 seconds left on the clock. Brookhart received the insert and drilled it just left of the cage to no avail.
Though the game was hard fought neither coach was thoroughly pleased with her teams' performance.
"I thought we started off really strong and then we just sat back. They picked up the intensity and we didn't match it," said Mt. Hebron coach Jeannette Ireland. "They are a nice team and we didn't make good decisions and you have to on a team like this."
River Hill coach Shelly Chamness thought her team allowed the Vikings to interrupt its rhythm.
"We allowed Hebron to take us out of our game. We were crowded, we got sucked in and didn't spread back out," she said.
River Hill 2, Mt. Hebron 1
Goals: RH — Varga (2). MH — Sutton.
Assists: RH — none. MH — Brookhart.
Saves: RH — Kelly 9. MH — Fisher 6.