Glenelg went in to Marriotts Ridge Friday looking to regroup from a lack-luster end of the regular season and also get some payback from its loss to the Mustangs earlier in the year.
The Gladiators ended up doing both.
“We were really motivated to come back and win this game, because we’ve been working really hard. We’re a really good team and we’ve been showing great potential and work ethic throughout the season,” said Glenelg freshman Taylor Carter, after defeating the fourth-seeded Mustangs, 2-0, in the first round of the 2A playoffs. “We really wanted to come back and beat them. It feels great. It’s been the first playoff win for Glenelg in a long time and I think it’s going to motivate us for the rest of the season to do better and train harder throughout practice to get another win.”
After going undefeated in their first six games, the Gladiators ended the year losing seven of its last eight, including a 2-1 defeat against Marriotts Ridge on Oct. 13.
“I felt like we were the better team in that game, but kudos to them. They played a great game on their senior night," said Glenelg coach Andrew Sherear. "They played for their seniors, but I felt like we were the better team that night and it was nice to get that revenge, especially in the playoffs when it matters most. They worked hard, they wanted it and I’m happy."
Heading in to the postseason Shearer knew he needed to make some adjustments to get his team playing at the same caliber as when they started the season and his lineup changes seemed to work to perfection Friday.
“We had to make some adjustments, some real conversations and you saw Anna [Callahan] is in goal, Alyssa [Henderson] is hurt. She got some training in and she did a nice job. I moved Courtney [Renehan] up top I think she adds another dimension. I just made a couple tweaks,” Shearer explained. “We had a really good week of training and I think the preparation paid off. I think all those losses kind of got to us and we realized that it is time to build now. We lost to some good teams, but we also beat ourselves. It was just a hurdle that we needed to overcome and today we did that. So I am happy, it’s great.”
The fifth-seeded Gladiators owned the first 20 minutes of action. They continuously played balls through to Bethany Stewart and Renehan up top, but the Mustangs defense smartly played a high back line, catching Glenelg off side twice in that span.
Marriotts Ridge junior goalkeeper Emma Meininger (eight saves) played those passes well, as she came out and aggressively picked up numerous loose balls that were played in the box, despite the heavy pressure from the Gladiator forwards.
But Glenelg continued building momentum and ultimately capitalized to gain the early, 1-0, lead with about 22 minutes remaining in the half.
Carter found some space atop of the 18-yard box, took a touch and sent a lofted shot, which snuck underneath the cross bar and over the head of Meininger for the goal.
“I felt like we were creating momentum throughout the play,” Carter said. “We connected a few good passes. We built it up the field and we had good communication and we just found the open space and when we shot it I just had a feeling that it was going to go in and it did.”
“She’s been a consistent stud all season,” added Shearer. “She is the future of this program along with some other players. It was a great strike. She’s been wanting those goals all season... She’s gong to be a beast, so I am just glad she is on my team I can tell you that.”
After Glenelg kept the Mustangs on their heels within the first 20 minutes, Marriotts Ridge flipped the momentum and started gaining more opportunities in the Gladiators defensive zone in the final 20 minutes before the break.
The Mustangs totaled six shots on target in the half and four of which were within the last stretch of the period.
“I think we played a goal down most of the season and it kind of motivates us a little bit," said Marriotts Ridge coach Karyn Peksa. "We don’t necessarily want to dig a hole, but [we] work hard now that we’re in that hole. Even going in to halftime down, 1-0, still believing that we have the heart and we can finish the game on top.”
Second half was evenly matched with play going back-and-forth and each team garnering six shots on net, but it was Glenelg who took advantage once again.
On a ball played through, Stewart stayed in line with the last defender and ran on to the pass, which created a one-on-one situation in the box with Meininger. Stewart had the clear advantage and hit her strike over the junior keeper with about 26 remaining in the game.
“I think with Courtney’s speed up top and Bethany’s speed up top and her hold up play and working with the midfielders – it made sense," Shearer said. “I had made that adjustment a couple games ago and it worked, and so I wish I had done it earlier, but it is what it is. We did it at the right time when we needed to. I think that pace and that balance in the hold up play worked really nice tonight, so it was good.”
The Mustangs pressed hard to cut the deficit, but could not get one to go and ultimately ended their season, 3-9-3 overall, along with a 3-6-2 county mark.
"We talked about having no regrets before the beginning of the game and playing the full 80, which I thought they fought all the way until the end," Peksa said. "We grew together as a team. We had only a couple of seniors, so most of us will be coming back next year, developing as a team, they learned to play well together and I think they got better with every game. Tonight was not the outcome we wanted, but we wish Glenelg the best of luck moving forward.”
Glenelg (3-6-2 county, 6-7-2 overall) move on and face top-seeded River Hill in the second round of the 2A playoffs on Tuesday. The Gladiators had tied the Hawks, 2-2, earlier in the year.
“Going in to this game I felt like we were really confident,” Carter added. “We really wanted to come back from our losing streak and we were really confident to try and get a playoff win, progress throughout the season and try to get to the state championship.”
Glenelg (3-6-2 county, 6-7-2 overall) 2, Marriotts Ridge (3-6-2 county, 3-9-3 overall) 0 (Friday, Oct. 28)
Goals: G – Carter, Stewart.
Assists: G – Grzebein.
Saves: G – Callahan 8; MR – Meininger 8.
Halftime: 1-0, Glenelg.
Around the league:
Glenelg Country 2, Bryn Mawr 1 (Friday, Oct. 28)
The Dragons advanced to the second round of the IAAM B conference playoffs Friday, knocking off Bryn Mawr, 2-1.
Addie Schmidt started the afternoon off for Glenelg Country, netting the game’s first goal with 19 minutes left.
Kara Barnes doubled the Dragons lead just before the break, finishing on a pass from teammate Alisha Netus.
Shay Ahearn had a productive day in net for Glenelg Country, finishing with 10 saves, and allowing just the second-half goal.
The Dragons are slated to face top-seeded St. Paul’s in the quarterfinal round on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.
Goals: GCS – Schmidt, Barnes.
Assists: GCS – Netus.
Saves: GCS – Ahearn 10.
Wilde Lake (4-6-1 county, 6-6-2 overall) 5, Oakland Mills (0-11 county, 0-15 overall) 0 (Friday, Oct. 28)
The third-seeded Wildecats moved on to the second round of the 2A playoffs, defeating the Scorpions, 5-0. Wilde Lake is set to take on second-seeded Hammond on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Key 5, Chapelgate (2-8 IAAM C, 2-15 overall) 2 (Friday, Oct. 28) (opening round IAAM C playoffs)