Arundel's Clarissa Kirsch-Downs wasn't exactly sure how the ball found its way to her in the middle of South River's crowded penalty area in the second overtime of Monday night's girls soccer showdown.
But once it was there, she knew exactly what to do next.
The junior midfielder one-timed a shot from 14 yards that found the left corner — the goal coming in the game's 93rd minute — giving the No. 5 Wildcats a thrilling 1-0 win over No. 4 South River to preserve the team's perfect season and assure a share of the Anne Arundel County championship. Arundel, which will close out the season at Chesapeake-AA on Wednesday, improves to 13-0 on the season and 10-0 in county play. South River falls to 11-2 and 9-1 in the league.
After Jenna Surdick sent a free kick from the left side toward the far post, the ball was headed to the middle before Kirsch-Downs notched her 14th and biggest goal of the season.
"It's really great to help the team out. We didn't play very well the whole game, but we believed in each other and we believed we could win," she said. "I don't know — the ball came to me from a header and I just hit it first time."
The goal came two minutes after South River had its best chance to score as standout senior Kacie Longo was able to get behind the Wildcats defense, only to have her point-blank shot from 10 yards turned away by goalie Tiffany Dayton-Hegedus.
Up until Kirsch-Downs heroics, neither team would budge with quality marking on defense and fine play from both goalkeepers – Dayton-Hegedus and South River's Emily Carter – dominating the play.
It was South River's first loss since a season-opening setback to No. 1 McDonogh. Despite the loss, Seahawks coach John Sis found plenty of positives as the team closes its regular season at home against Wednesday before heading into the region playoffs.
"We played well. We had our chances and just need to have a little more composure in front of the goal. This was Arundel. They're a good team, undefeated and if this is the No. 1 team in the county, I feel pretty good where we're at right now," he said.
5 Arundel 1, 4 South River 0 (2 OT)
Goals: A – Kirsch Downs
Saves: SR – Carter 4; A – Dayton-Hegedus 6.