After starting the spring with a loss to Centennial – its first defeat at the hands of a county opponent in 60 games – Glenelg is finally starting to find its stride.
Since then, the Gladiators haven’t skipped a beat, tearing through league opponents just the way they used to. And, though it wasn’t easy Friday against River Hill at Western Regional Park, they kept that momentum going.
“We took the loss personally,” said Glenelg’s Tyler Wasson, who scored three goals en route to his team’s 7-4 victory over the Hawks. “We just told our guys that we really had to step up and claim our spot at the top of the county again.
“We just woke up, I guess.”
Wasson joined Jeremy Rigali for goals in the first half, and, following a scoreless third quarter, Kevin Wynne (2 goals) and Kevin Coppinger helped supply the firepower in the fourth.
“We’re coming back, and we’re getting healthy,” said Glenelg coach Josh Hatmaker. “We gave up a couple of goals we probably shouldn’t have. It was just a lack of concentration for a split second.”
In the first quarter, it was the Hawks that struck first when Danny Issac connected for the score. River Hill (3-2) kept winning the possession battle for much of that opening quarter, as it was nearly eight minutes until Wasson finally responded for the Gladiators.
Luke Cheswick fed Jeremy Rigali for the goal less than five minutes into the second frame, and after Jimmy McEneaney found Josh Schulman to tie it up at two goals each, the Gladiators (4-1, 4-2) went on their first run of the game.
Behind two assists from Nick Forrest and two more scores from Wasson, Glenelg earned itself a little breathing room. But, as halftime grew closer, the Hawks cut into the deficit once again.
With one minute before intermission, sophomore Jake Friedman picked up a ground ball right in front of the crease, threw a fake at Glenelg goalie Landry Marshall, and fired. At the half, down just 4-3, River Hill coach Keith Gonsouland knew his team was close.
“We were right there, I just felt like we need to improve in the clearing game,” he said. “We were getting stops. I think our defense is underrated.”
Both teams had trouble finding the back of the net in the third, though Glenelg did maintain possession for the majority of the time.
Hatmaker couldn’t remember the last time one of his teams took part in a scoreless quarter. “It’s been a while,” he said. “They took the air out of the ball early on.”
River Hill goalie Darius Khademi (15 saves) made it especially difficult for the Gladiators to put points on the board. Gonsouland even went as far to say the senior is “as good as anybody there is in the county.”
The scoring drought didn’t last long into the final quarter, as Wynne found the cage twice in 90 seconds for Glenelg.
Though McEneaney connected on a nifty behind the back shot for River Hill, Coppinger’s score with 2:37 to play gave the Gladiators a three-goal cushion they wouldn’t relinquish.
Wasson’s Gladiators have now defeated River Hill in their last four regular season meetings – games he said his team looked forward to the most.
Gonsouland knew his guys would get a tough game, especially coming off a triple-overtime loss to Reservoir early in the week.
“I was proud of the way the kids responded to that,” he said. “Quite frankly, in the past, the kids would have been a little down on themselves. This group didn’t do that. They came back and they were determined to win a ballgame.”
With much of his team battling sickness off the field, Hatmaker said it was nice to see his guys playing together again. While he didn’t believe they shot the ball particularly well, he knows the potential is there.