River Hill girls soccer coach Brian Song has seen his share of closely-contested games against Howard County rival Glenelg with the outcomes not decided until the latter stages of games.
In Monday's early-season showdown for first place, he challenged his team to start fast and not look back.
Controlling the first 10 minutes and making the most of their chances, the No. 6 Hawks got early goals from Kathryn Arensmeier and Sheridan Street five minutes apart and protected the lead with poise in coming away with a sturdy 2-0 home win over the No. 5 Gladiators.
River Hill improves to 5-2 overall and remains undefeated in Howard with a 4-0 mark. Glenelg loses for the first time and is now 3-1 both overall and in league play.
"I told the girls if they can go out and score early, the game can be easier. They were very focused today — this was one of the better games we've played this season," Song said.
Five minutes into the game, Arensmeier took a pass from Elizabeth Bamber along the left side and finished a chance just outside the penalty area to give the Hawks a 1-0 advantage. Four minutes later, Street took a short pass across from Alexandria Hamer and neatly found the lower left corner from 14 yards for the fast 2-0 lead.
With the 2-0 lead, River Hill was just as impressive in the second half, possessing the ball most of the way with creative combinations in its attacking end. And while the Hawks were unable to add to the lead, they kept the Gladiators from getting back into the game. The visitors were only able to put three shots on goal. The Gladiators' best scoring chance came with 26 minutes to play when Ashley Wilkerson got behind the Hawks' defense but sent a shot from 14 yards wide of the goal.
The Hawks got strong two-way play at midfielder from Bamber and Katie Marlatt.
6 River Hill 2, 5 Glenelg 0
Goals: RH – Arensmeier, Street
Assists: RH – Bamber, Hamer
Saves: G – Carey 1; RH – Brunett 3
Half: RH, 2-0