South River follows lesson plan to repeat state title

Bob Hough
Contact Reporterbhough@capgaznews.com

CHESTERTOWN — South River field hockey coach Megan Atkinson knew her patience would be tested this season. After losing nine seniors, including the team’s leading scorer and starting goalie, there figured to be some early-season struggles.

While the struggles were there, including a three-game losing streak early in the season, the Seahawks fought back and won their second straight Class 4A state title following Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Dulaney in the state final at Washington College.

South River (13-6) won its sixth state title and went back-to-back for the second time.

“This season has been a long, bumpy road for us, and for me as a coach it’s been the test of patience for sure,” Atkinson said. “We lost a string of games there at the beginning of the year and we wanted to turn it around right away and see something different happen. Unfortunately it didn’t right away, but as I told the girls this morning, all those losses led to lessons learned.”

South River also had to deal with the fact that its season appeared to be over following a loss to Severna Park in the region final on Nov. 1. Once the Falcons were forced to withdraw from the tournament, the Seahawks seized the opportunity.”

“We walked away from that game thinking let’s do this, this and this to prepare for next season, and luckily we got to do that the next day,” Atkinson said. “We got to jump-start the 2018 season while we got to finish 2017.”

Juniors Caroline Kerr and Darcy Clement scored goals in the first 13 minutes and the Seahawks had a 2-0 lead and were dominating play. Dulaney started to play much better and had a chance to cut into the lead on its first penalty corner in the closing minutes of the first half, but Madeline Cloyd blocked the Lions’ initial shot and the follow went wide and preserved the Seahawks’ 2-0 lead at the half.

Dulaney, which lost for the just the second time this season and the first in 19 games, cut the lead in half at the 10-minute mark of the second half. The Lions had their share of chances down the stretch, but South River’s big-game experience showed and it was able to fight off some late chances.

“I think our county is one the hardest counties to play in,” Clement said. “To be able to play Broadneck, Severna Park and Chesapeake, those games helped us grow so much as a team.”

After losing the large senior class last year, the Seahawks will graduate just three this year. Cloyd, Paris Plummer and Jessie Wynne all leave the program as two-time state champions.

“This feels great. This is what I’ve been wanting since my freshman year,” said Plummer, one of the Seahawks’ top scorers this year. “It definitely was hard since we lost the nine seniors, but everyone stepped up, the seniors took charge and we finished from there.”

South River sophomore Tommi Bresnahan might have had some pressure lifted with Saturday’s win. Her three older sisters — Heather, Taylor and Kassidy — who all won state titles at South River during their careers, were on hand Saturday to cheer on their younger sister and the team. There has now been a member of the Bresnahan family on five of South River’s six field hockey state titles.

“It feels great because having my last name is such a privilege,” Tommi Bresnahan said. “I have a lot of shoes to fill.”

Kaitlyn Wallace stopped six shots for the Seahawks, who shook off the uncomfortable situation they were put in two weeks ago and moved into a tie with Middletown with the six state titles. Only six other schools in the state have more.

“I was a little concerned they would take some ridicule,” South River athletic director Dave Klingel said. “One thing we tried to stress to them was nothing was of their doing and they get to go play field hockey for another week. People will say what they say, but the one thing they can’t take away from them now is they’re state champions.”

Class 4A state final

South River 2, Dulaney 1

Goals: SR — Kerr, Clement; DU — Hermann.

Assists: SR — Allison, Lee; DU — O’Grady.

Saves: SR — Wallace 6; DU — Mercer 6.

Halftime: 2-0, South River

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