In Anne Arundel County girls lacrosse, the regular-season champion wins the county title, so there's not always much excitement on the final day of league competition. This season, however, there will be.
No. 7 South River's 11-9 victory over No. 8 Severna Park on Tuesday set up a winner-take-all season finale between the Seahawks and No. 12 Annapolis at South River on Friday at 5 p.m. The victor not only takes the county title but also earns a berth in Tuesday's District V championship against the Howard County champion.
Even though the Seahawks (11-2) improved to 10-0 in the county, Annapolis is right behind at 9-1 after Tuesday night's 15-4 win over North County. If the Panthers (11-1-1) beat the Seahawks, they win the championship based on the head-to-head tiebreaker.
"I love this," said Seahawks attacker Jacky Spalding. "The more competitive the games, the better and I'm really looking forward to it. I love our team and I think we're playing great. We still have some things to work on, but we still have a lot ahead of us."
Spalding orchestrated a big possession game for the host Seahawks, who also had an exceptional shooting night, hitting all seven shots in the first half and 11 of 17 in the game.
Severna Park, the defending state Class 4A-3A champion which could get another chance at the Seahawks in the regional playoffs, scored four of the first five goals of the second half to tie at 8 on Ally Adams's goal with 18:30 to go.
The Seahawks answered with two quick hits off the draw and took a 10-8 lead on Spalding's game winner off a feed from Kacie Longo.
For the last 15 minutes of the first half, Spalding controlled the ball behind the goal as the Seahawks worked for long stretches looking for good shots — and perhaps more importantly keeping the ball out of the Falcons' sticks. Winning the last five draws of the half helped the Seahawks win possession again after scoring three goals.
"We wanted to wait for the perfect opportunity and not rush the ball," Spalding said. "They can't score if they don't have it. If they kept working and I kept working, then Severna Park is going to get worried. They have to keep on their feet and they're going to get tired and they're going to foul."
The Falcons (11-2, 8-2) committed three off-the-ball fouls and Madison Carter, Alex Watson and Taylor Bresnahan converted the free-position shots for a 7-4 South River halftime lead.
Severna Park coach Carin Peterson countered late in the half and the rest of the game by having defender Abby Walker faceguard Spalding. That forced the Seahawks to attack from up top.
The Seahawks' defense also turned in a fine performance despite the loss of Hannah Street, the senior defensive quarterback sidelined with a stress fracture in her left foot. Bella Pyne faceguarded the Falcons' top offensive threat Morgan Torrgler, who often struggled to get the ball but used the Falcons picks to score three times.
The game feature few saves, but Seahawks's freshman Meredith Obear made two point-blank stops in the final seconds to preserve the win.
Longo led the Seahawks with a goal and three assists while Ryan Bathras dished out four assists for the Falcons.
Goals: SP—Torrgler 3, Adams 2, Kirk 2, Wells, Ricci; SR—Kovalick 2, Carter 2, Bresnahan 2, Watson 2, Milligan, Longo, Spalding. Assists: SP—Bathras 5, Adams; SR—Longo 3, Bresnahan, Watson. Saves: SP—King 0, R.Vander Kolk 2; SR—Obear 3. Half: SR, 7-4.