Glenelg led Atholton by three goals midway through the second half when the Raiders offense gained momentum for the first time since the start of the game.
The visiting Raiders scored two goals in a five-minute span and were lining up for a corner kick in hopes to tie the game. However, a Gladiator defender was able to clear the ball right to Brianna Werner, who had a breakaway to the goal.
The sophomore forward beat Atholton’s goalie on the one-on-one to end the Raiders’ momentum and give Glenelg the 4-2 victory on Tuesday.
“In the beginning of the season, it’s all about learning lessons,” said Glenelg head coach Christian von Rautenkranz. “There’s no variable more powerful than momentum. Atholton put us on our heels there for five minutes. To start off the county season with a 4-2 victory, we feel fantastic about it.”
Werner scored two goals and assisted another in the Gladiators’ first county victory of the season. The key for Werner, her coach said, is confidence.
“The moment she was able to gain confidence, that’s a factor that’s uncoachable,” he said. “I talked to her before the game, and I could see she was confident. She lacked that as a freshman, which is understandable, but she was probably the best player on the field today.”
Glenelg is off to a 3-0 start after winning its season-opening tournament with a 2-1 victory over Manchester Valley and a 7-0 triumph over Walkersville. Werner scored four goals in the tournament, which brings her season total to six in three games.
“We’re all very confident,” Werner said. “I don’t think any of us expected to start this strong, but now we’re gaining confidence, and we have started believing in ourselves.”
Atholton (0-1, 1-1) controlled possession for the first five minutes of the game but couldn’t capitalize on its early scoring opportunities. Glenelg (1-0, 3-0) then dominated possession for the rest of the first half.
Hallie Koele drew first blood for the Gladiators 12 minutes into the game. The senior defender took a pass from Werner and fired a perfectly placed shot from 25 yards out in the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
“I trust Hallie. She’s our captain,” Werner said. “I know if she takes that shot that she’s going to be able to sink it."
Neither team scored for the next 42 minutes. Glenelg took a 2-0 lead on a Symone Jenson goal and a 3-0 lead four minutes later on Werner’s first goal.
Atholton then went on its run for the next five minutes. The Raiders were finally able to penetrate Glenelg’s defense when Lindsey Van Der Meid and Ava Swartz scored to bring Atholton within one goal with 15 minutes remaining. Van Der Meid scored from 15 yards out, and Swartz’s goal was a header after a corner kick from Ally Clearfield.
“Their fight in the second half was lovely,” head coach Clifford Walcott said. “I’ve got to celebrate that with them. That was definitely a good thing. You feel a little disappointed when things don’t go your way and you battle, but that’s a piece of life.”
Werner’s goal on the breakaway ended the Raiders’ hopes of a comeback. She said her teammates’ support gives her even more confidence to score goals.
“I definitely feel more confident this year,” Werner said. “My teammates support me and build me up. When I’m put in awesome positions by them, I can just go and I don’t have to think.”
Both teams are back on the pitch Thursday. Atholton hosts Reservoir, while Glenelg plays at Hammond.
Goals: G — Brianna Werner 2, Hallie Koele, Symone Jenson; A — Lindsey Van Der Meid, Ava Swartz.
Assists: G — Werner, Susie Shollenberger; A — Ally Clearfield.
Saves: G — Kendall Castor 8; A — Samantha Roerty 11.
Halftime: 1-0, G