South River goalie Elizabeth Duswalt made a big impression in her first varsity start Wednesday night at Broadneck.
The junior, who spent last season on JV, made a terrific save on Kacy Koolage's free-position shot with 40 seconds left to preserve an 11-10 victory for the No. 11 Seahawks against a tough Anne Arundel County rival on the opening day for public school spring sports statewide.
"I knew I hadn't been playing my best the whole game," said Duswalt, who finished with four saves. "I knew that was my time to put my full input into it. She bounced it, and I knew she was going low as soon as she angled her stick down, but I kind of had a head start on it, like reading it."
Although Broadneck won 14-4 last season, these rivals almost always stage a close game. The average margin of victory over their previous nine meetings is just 3.8, and four of their last 10 meetings have been decided by one goal.
Despite being so early in the season, the game almost certainly will have playoff implications because the county, as well as the region, has come down to three teams in recent years — South River, Broadneck and No. 8 Severna Park, last year's Class 4A-3A state champ.
Seahawks junior midfielder Taylor Bresnahan said the game had a playoff feel to it.
"It was intense," she said. "It was tough, because we've only been together for two weeks and it doesn't give us a lot of time to practice plays and stuff. But I think it was a good start, because now we know what we need to work on for next time we play them [possibly in the regional playoffs] and when we play Severna Park."
The game featured huge momentum shifts, with the No. 13 Bruins getting the jump early in both halves and coach Kim McNemar's Seahawks coming back.
South River scored four times in the final 2:03 of the first half to take a 7-6 lead on Amber Kovalick's goal. The Seahawks had a good chance to extend their lead early in the second half, but Bruins goalie Natalee Easthom, who finished with 13 saves, stopped a pair of free-position shots in the first minute and a half to give the Bruins a chance to rally.
Aislinn Probst, who scored four goals, tied it at 7 and Koolage then scored twice to boost the Bruins' lead to 9-7 with 12:49 to go. After the teams traded goals, Bresnahan drove from up top to spark a three-goal South River run. Jacky Spalding scored on a free position before Bresnahan fed Jenni Milligan for her third goal, the game winner with 51 seconds to go.
After Zoe Earnest's goal with 7:47 left, the Bruins didn't manage another shot until Koolage's final attempt.
"I felt like the girls were having a hard time adjusting when they started to come back," Broadneck coach Karen Tengwall said. "We were making the plays and scoring the goals, and then they would come back and we'd get deflated. Then they would score another one, and we couldn't seem to get ourselves out of the mental state that we could potentially fall behind."
No. 11 South River 11, No. 13 Broadneck 10
SR—Milligan 3, Spalding 2, Gray, Watson, Longo, Kovalick, Pyne, Bresnahan; B—Probst 4, Koolage 3, Earnest 2, Koolage, McCarthy. Assists: SR—Bresnahan 2; B—Earnest 2, Marquess. Saves: SR—Duswalt 4; B—Easthom 13. Half: SR, 7-6.