A defining moment of South River's season came with just under three minutes left in the first half of Friday's regular-season finale against No. 12 Annapolis.
Each time the No. 7 Seawhawks appeared to be pulling away in the winner-take-all matchup for the Anne Arundel County title, Annapolis found a way to force itself back into the game. That all changed when Jacky Spalding and Kacie Longo each scored two goals in a 45-second span to give host South River a commanding lead it never relinquished.
With a 20-10 victory, South River finished unbeaten in league play and advances to Tuesday's District V title game against Howard County champion and No. 4 Marriotts Ridge.
"I really don't know where it came from," Longo said about the goals. "We just kept the draw controls and that usually makes the difference in the game. We were nervous going in, but then we realized we had what it takes. We had to believe in ourselves."
Longo, Spalding and Taylor Bresnahan each had four goals, Amber Kovalick added three and Jaylen Schulte finished with two for South River (12-2 overall, 11-0 county). Bailey Greene and Madeline Dion led Annapolis (11-2-1, 9-2) with three goals each.
Greene opened the scoring for Annapolis just 23 seconds into the game. South River then answered by scoring on four of its first five shots on two goals by Spalding and others by Longo and Kovalick. Longo's second goal increased the lead to five.
"Opportunities were there, and we took advantage of it," Spalding said. "I am so excited. I think it's a confidence booster. None of us had won a county title before. But we know we still have a lot of work to do."
Annapolis marched back on consecutive goals by Alyssa Cooper, Dion and Maggie Masters, cutting the lead to 5-4 with 7:06 left in the half. But Alex Watson and Kovalick answered for South River to increase the margin back to three.
Longo and Spalding then took over with two goals each in less than a minute by simply attacking the goal. Greene and Bresnahan traded goals, and South River led 12-6 at the break. Kovalek's third goal just nine seconds into the second half and another by Jennie Milligan kept South River rolling the rest of the way.
"We're coming together at the right time," South River coach Kim McNemar said. "Our offense is really turning it on. At the same time, we still have tons of things to work on."
No. 11 South River 20, No. 12 Annapolis 10
Goals: A- Greene 3, Cooper, Dion 3, Masters, Brandenburg, Kopf; S- Kovalick 3, Longo 4, Spalding 4, Watson, Bresnahan 4, Milligan, Graziano, Schulte 2
Assists: A- Masters, Macleay, Brandenburg, Greene 2, Macleay; S- Watson 2, Bresnahan, Spalding 2, Kovalick, Milligan
Saves: A- McCabe 6; S- Obear 3, Duswalt 3