After a dropping a close match to McDonogh over the weekend, River Hill’s girls soccer team was able to refocus Tuesday, recording a big 2-0 win over Marriotts Ridge. The victory keeps the Hawks perfect in county play.
“They put a lot of great pressure on us, but I think we held them off even better,” said Jessie Hopkins, who scored the Hawks’ second goal of the night.
In the first half, with just about 18 minutes remaining before the break, River Hill’s Alex Hamer took a deflection off a Mustang in the box. Hamer then reeled back and struck the top right corner of the net, just outside Marriotts Ridge keeper Jenna Bergquist’s reach.
The Mustangs responded, asserting a strong defensive attack that kept the Hawks (6-0) out of the goal for the remainder of the first half.
Heading into halftime it was just 1-0, and River Hill coach Brian Song said he knew his girls were about to face a strong showing from the Mustangs for the final 40 minutes.
“We came out a little flat,” he said of the second half. “I just told the ladies, ‘Make sure you don’t play back on your heels.’ ”
Hopkins said her team may have been complacent after scoring the first goal.
“I think when we scored, we started to relax,” she said. “And then in the second half, they definitely came out a lot harder.”
Marriotts Ridge (4-1-1) opened the half by delivering shot after shot, creating a number of opportunities to score.
River Hill keeper Julia Caine, who had 14 saves in the win, didn’t give in. And as the minutes ticked away, the Hawks’ defense slowly sprung into action.
Though the Mustangs had a plethora of chances, and out-shot the Hawks, they still weren’t able to connect.
“Unfortunately, soccer is a funny sport. When it doesn’t drop your way, it just doesn’t drop your way,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Robin Grey. “Kudos to River Hill. They took advantage of their opportunities when they had them. We just could get ours to drop.”
With under seven minutes remaining, Hopkins drove a free kick from about 30 yards out into the net, giving the Hawks some breathing room before time expired.
“I noticed that the wall was a little shorter than usual, so it was easy to find the upper 90,” she said. “We needed to step up. We wanted that extra goal.”
A physical battle as well, both River Hill's Sheridan Street and Marriotts Ridge's Morgan Hochuli were awarded yellow cards at different points.
The loss was the first for the Mustangs in county play. Bergquist (five saves) said that they could learn from how they stacked up against the county’s best team.
“Today, our team showed that we can fight back no matter what we’re doing,” she said, adding that she felt the Mustangs out-played the Hawks throughout the entire game.
“We showed … that against an opponent that is so tough and so good, that we can keep going at it.”
Both teams will play again Friday. River Hill travels to Centennial, while Long Reach will welcome the Mustangs.
Centennial defeats Long Reach 3-1