Sarah Gellert and her Severna Park teammates controlled possession throughout the first half of their game at Southern Monday evening, but could not find the back of the net. As a result, they trailed by a goal at the break.
Gellert and the Falcons made the necessary adjustments so the second half would not produce the same scoreless effort. Elizabeth Kiely assisted on Gellert’s equalizer in the 50th minute, then tallied the winner herself four minutes later as Severna Park defeated the Bulldogs, 2-1.
The first 40 minutes produced 10 shots overall for the Falcons (5-1-1), but only six were on goal, and none tested goalkeeper Maddie Sturgell, who easily handled each attempt.
“The girls just had to stay composed in that situation and not knock the ball around,” Severna Park coach Brian Morgan said. “We had some players out of position a little bit, and at halftime we just stressed to be more dynamic and creative, and that created a couple decent chances.”
Meanwhile, Southern (3-1-1) only took two shots in the first half, content with its counterparts holding onto the ball. Defenders Jayne Barkman, Cameron Mangold. Kirsten Foster and Rachel Barnhill consistently forced long shots, took shots away, or simply pushed Severna Park’s offense wide. In the 19th minute, Mangold jump-started the offense when she sent a free kick into the box. An attempted shot deflected off a Severna Park defender to Southern’s Savannah Lickel, who turned and fired a laser shot into the lower left corner of the net for a 1-0 Southern advantage.Lickel had just come into the game, and the goal was just her second or third touch of the contest.
Lickel recently transferred in from Florida and made her Bulldogs debut Thursday in a scoreless draw at Annapolis. In that game, she had a goal called back on an offsides call. She was plenty onside this time around.
“We have not had a player as skilled as her since I have been here. She has obviously played a lot of high-level club ball,” Southern coach Brooke Walsh said. “We are working on integrating her into play and trying to figure out where her best spot is. Itt might be a game-by-game decision on where to play her.”
Morgan talked to his team at halftime, and it really just seemed like a matter of time for an equalizer. Severna Park held possession at least 70-75 percent of the time, so it was j ust a matter of working the right combinations, and finding a way to get past the athletic Sturgell. The Falcons produced the results they needed quickly.In the 50th minute, Gellert took a pass from Kiely, cut inside her defender, and scored her 10th goal of the season in almost the exact same location as Lickel to even the game at 1.
“We came in together and knew we were a better team than we were showing, and we just went out and worked hard for each other,” Gellert said. “It was just a matter of a few minor adjustments up front. We stayed wider and made runs across, and played more through-balls in, because they were playing so far back.”
Four minutes, 30 seconds later, Elizabeth Kiely put the Falcons ahead with her first goal of the season on a well-placed shot to the upper left that Sturgill was only able to get a piece of.
“I was wide open, I ran into the box late and just volleyed it in,” Kiely said. “There weren’t any defenders on me, so I just took the shot. We were organized with how we were playing offensively, and I think grit is what pushed is through there.”
Gellert is the most consistent finisher on the Falcons, but Morgan is pleased with the depth in his attacking unit.
“That was a quality finish by Elizabeth. She can score, and we have several other players who can put the ball in the back of the net,” Morgan said.
The Falcons continued to press, with Toni Fiocco-Mizer going wide left in the 65th minute and Sturgill forced to tip another shot over the bar three minutes later. Sturgill finished with 10 saves for Southern. The Bulldogs had not allowed a goal in the run of play this season, totaling 370 minutes, until Gellert’s tally.
“With their possession, we preached to them to stay patient and save her legs. Don’t chase the ball around,” Walsh said. “They played the one-touch ball in, then back out, then back in, on both those goals. It was textbook perfect.”
Both sides got a good look at what they can do, and what they need to do, moving forward. Walsh’s squad acquitted itself well against a technically superior Severna Park squad. With Sturgell and Mangold in the back, the Bulldogs have the ability to send their outside backs up on the attack, and that should pay dividends down the road. For the Falcons, the growth is obvious in Morgan’s second season. The possibilities are strong, but only if the team stays with it throughout the season.
“It is just a matter of sticking to the game plan and being opportunistic,” Morgan said. “We are getting there, but we still need reminders as the first half showed. Every day, we need to put in the work. There is no let up. We need to be locked in every game.”
Severna Park 2, Southern 1
Goals: SP — Gellert, Kiely; SO — Lickel
Assists: SP — Kiely.
Saves: SP – Byrd 2; SO – Sturgill 10
Half: SO, 1-0.