Broadneck sophomore goalie Kayla Koch showed the confidence of an upperclassman Friday night, especially late in the second half of the sectional semifinal against Anne Arundel County rival South River.
Koch finished with 10 saves — including four in the final 11 minutes — as the No. 10 Bruins held off the Seahawks, 11-6, to move on to the Class 4A-3A East Section I final at top-seeded Severna Park Monday at 7 p.m. The Falcons beat Arundel, 18-4, in the other semifinal.
With 13:45 to go against the defending state champion Bruins, the visiting Seahawks pulled within 10-6 on back-to-back goals from Madison Carter and Kacie Longo. After that, they couldn't get anything past Koch.
"They were doing a great job," Koch said of a South River attack that took 21 shots, "but our defense also played great and they shut them down quite a few times. That gave me the confidence to do my part to save the ball."
Koch referred to a stellar defensive effort led by Emily Barton, Anya Fisher, Lexi Sortisio and Regan Littell, who held the Seahawks (8-7) to their lowest offensive output of the season. In addition to her saves in the waning minutes, Koch also backed up one Seahawks shot behind the goal to give the Bruins an additional possession.
"For being a sophomore, she is playing very mature, very above her age," Broadneck coach Katy Kelley said. "I think she's just coming into her confidence. The goalie game is so mental and I think she feels confident with her defense in front of her and she's coming up with big saves."
Koch had a couple saves in the opening minutes after the Seahawks won the first six draws. Although Carter gave South River the early lead, Bruins midfielder Ellie McNulty quickly matched it and the Seahawks never led again.
After McNulty scored the second of her four goals, Kassidy Bresnahan tied it at 2, but Broadneck (14-2) then reeled off four in a row, including two from Natalie Hendricks, and the Bruins led 6-2 late in the first half.
While the Seahawks netted just three of 13 shots in the first half, the Bruins scored on seven of 10.
"We were hounding them all week, 'We need to win the draw. It's going to be the most important stat of this game,'" South River coach Sam Farrell said. "They came out and they fought for that draw. We just could not capitalize on attack. We had 21 shots and only six goals to show for it. That goalie had a great game and we just couldn't get the ball around her."
Although the Seahawks won 10 of 19 draws in the game, Broadneck won the last two in the first half and six of eight in the second. That helped them extend their lead to 9-4 when Cassie Hertzig dished out her third assist of the game to Arden Smith with 15:42 to go.
The Bruins swept three meetings with South River this season and McNulty said they were keenly aware of how tough that is to do, especially against such a fierce rival.
"It's always a huge rivalry. We knew it would be a fight to the end," the senior said. "When it comes to playoffs, everything in the past doesn't matter. It's what you do next … They beat us twice last year and we came and beat them in the playoffs, so we knew it was going to be a fight today and we're really proud of how we did."
The Bruins split their games with Severna Park (12-2), falling 7-6 in the season opener and winning 15-10 last week.
No. 10 Broadneck No. 11, South River 6
Goals: SR—Carter 2, Bresnahan, Blance, Wolfe, Longo; B—McNulty 4, Hendricks 2, Harris 2, Smith 2, Sullivan. Assists: SR—Blanche, Marranto, Wolfe; B—Hertzig 3, McNulty, Sullivan. Saves: SR—Obear 3; B—Koch 10. Half: B, 7-3.