Before last season, the Severna Park field hockey team had been a thorn in the side of South River for years, knocking strong Seahawks teams out of the playoffs time and time again.
The season was not at stake Friday night, but the Falcons once again left their mark on the defending Class 4A state champions.
Playing in its home opener, No. 5 Severna Park took control by scoring twice in a span of 2:25 late in the first half, then held off top-ranked South River the rest of the way in a 2-0 win, ending the Seahawks' 20-game winning steak.
In this one, Severna Park's ability to take an early lead made the difference.
"That was huge. I think that's the reason we won the game," junior Olivia Reiter said. "If we fell behind, it would've been really hard to crawl back."
Severna Park (6-0), which knocked South River out of the playoffs for five straight years through 2011, has now outscored opponents this season 19-1. South River (5-1) had beaten its Anne Arundel county rivals three straight times and five of the past six prior to Friday.
Severna Park coach Ann Andrews said having such a strong rivalry is a huge benefit to both teams.
"We're good because South River is so good, and South River is good because we're good," Andrews said. "We're raising the bar for each other constantly."
After coming up short on a pair of early scoring chances, Severna Park broke on top with a pair of quick goals.
First, with 8:40 left before halftime, Reiter scored on a hard shot just inside the top of the circle. Then, 2:25 later, junior Lauren Duvall fed junior Cassy Zachares to her right, and the midfielder then beat goalie Naomi Johnson to her left to make it 2-0.
Andrews said that keeping Johnson off-balance in goal was the key.
"Naomi Johnson is an exceptional goalie, so we knew it wasn't going to be easy to score on her. It was going to have to be while she was on the move," Andrews said. "If we were going to put the ball in the goal, it wasn't going to be a stationary drive. I think both of those goals came when she was repositioning."
The Seahawks took a more aggressive posture to open the second half, keeping pressure on Severna Park's cage. Their best chance came nine minutes into the half, when it took a series of successive kick saves by goalie Liz Mata to keep South River off the board.
Midfielder Anna Wagner then appeared to score with 11:51 left, but her goal was disallowed for coming outside the circle.
Despite the loss, South River coach Megan Atkinson said her team showed improvement over previous games, even though the Seahawks won contents this week against county powers Broadneck and Arundel.
"I think, by far, that this is the best game we've played, yet the outcome wasn't what we wanted," Atkinson said. "I still think we had the offensive pressure that we wanted."
Severna Park 2, South River 0.
Goals: SR-Reiter, Zachares; SP-Duvall. Saves: SR-Johnson 3; SP-Mata 6. Half: Severna Park, 2-0.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun