When the Howard County field hockey schedule came out, River Hill coach Shelly Chamness knew she would find out quickly how good her team was.
The Hawks’ first three opponents — Marriotts Ridge, Glenelg and Mt. Hebron — have all been perennial powerhouse programs in Howard County.
Following three consecutive victories, including a 2-1 win at home against the Vikings on Monday, the verdict is that these Hawks thrive on a challenge.
“Each game has been a little bit different in terms of how it has played out, but the common theme so far has been that it’s taken a team effort to pull through,” Chamness said. “Having 10 returners that know each other … that has been so huge. They communicate well, and our midfielders have been really great at setting everything up. I’m so proud of them.”
Against Mt. Hebron (1-2), Maddie Vasilios gave River Hill (3-0) a first-half lead. Then, after the Vikings answered to tie the game in the early stages of the second half, Evelyn Dzubak delivered the deciding score with just over six minutes remaining in regulation.
It is the third straight one-goal win for the Hawks, who sit alone in first place in the standings.
Just as important as the goals, though, was the team’s defensive effort. Goalie Jocelyn Baker made four big saves on the night, and in the final minute of the first quarter, senior defender Karmjit Barring kept the game scoreless by saving a Mt. Hebron shot off the end line.
Vasilios said every aspect of the team is clicking at the moment.
“We all play together very well. There’s a great connection between the midfield and the forwards and then the defense is doing its part too,” she said. “I think these three games, more than anything, have just showed how we have become such a good team. It’s not just one area carrying everything. It’s everyone together.”
It was Vasilios who broke the scoreless tie with 2:42 remaining in the second quarter. She finished a give-and-go play with fellow sophomore Puja Nanjappa off a corner, firing a hard shot into the cage from just inside of the circle.
But Mt. Hebron regrouped at the break. After several near misses in the first half, the Vikings got on the board with 11:09 left in the third quarter. On a play that started with a corner, Michelle Pak deflected in a shot from the top of the circle by Paige Leitzel to tie the game at 1-1.
“I basically told them at halftime, we are still in this game. We were getting the opportunities we needed, now let’s just finish,” Mt. Hebron coach Jeannette Ireland said. “So I was definitely happy to see them get that one so quickly.”
Both teams traded chances the rest of the third quarter and in the early stages of the fourth, but the score stayed tied 1-1.
Ultimately it was River Hill, which had four would-be goals over the course of the evening waived off and another shot that hit the post, that ended up finally capitalizing down the stretch.
On a cross from Laura Mason, Dzubak finished on the left side of the cage.
“I feel like we all did a great job of keeping our heads in it, no matter what was happening,” Vasilios said. “I actually think the fact that they scored to make it 1-1, that motivated us. I felt like we played harder after that and were just determined to get that second goal.”
Mt. Hebron was unable to answer again before time expired and lost its second one-goal game of the season. But Ireland said she has seen an improvement each game so far and is encouraged about what lies ahead.
“I think as a team we are progressing. It’s still a matter of learning to play with each other, and I think dealing with some injuries has slowed us down a little,” Ireland said. “But overall we are grateful to be out here and there’s no doubt we are coming along.”
River Hill 2, Mt. Hebron 1
Goals: RH — Vasilios, Dzubak; MH — Pak.
Assists: RH — Nanjappa, Mason; MH — Leitzel.
Saves: RH — Baker 4; MH — Lloyd 10.
Halftime: 1-0 RH.
OTHER FIELD HOCKEY SCORES:
Marriotts Ridge 3, Howard 0
Julie Lawler scored twice to give the Mustangs their first win of the season. Marriotts Ridge (1-2) lost two one-score games to open the season against River Hill and Mt. Hebron, but the Mustangs bounced back with a decisive win over the Lions. Meanwhile, the loss is the first for Howard (2-1) this season.
Molly Metz and AJ Eyre scored two goals apiece to lead the Gladiators. Sammie Anderson also chipped in with a goal and two assists for Glenelg (2-1). The loss is Reservoir’s second since its season-opening upset of Mt. Hebron.
Goals: G — Molly Metz 2, AJ Eyre 2, Sammie Anderson; Re — N/A.
Assists: G — Anderson 2.
Saves: G — Hala Silverstein 1; Re — N/A.
Halftime: 3-1, G.
Wilde Lake 2, Long Reach 1 OT
Brianna Floyd’s goal with five minutes left in the second overtime put the Wildecats over Long Reach. The Lightning drew first blood with a goal from Skylar Kohler in the first half, but Wilde Lake (2-1) responded with a third-quarter goal from Marty Loughrige.
The Mustangs handed the Eagles their first loss of the season. Rhisen Davis and Leah Liu led Marriotts Ridge (2-1) to victory with five and seven kills, respectively. Centennial (3-1) was led by Mailinh Godschall, who tallied seven kills and eight digs.
Marriotts Ridge stats: Rhisen Davis (1 ace, 5 kills, 3 digs), Julia Mamo (2 aces, 9 digs), Brenna O’Reilly (1 ace, 10 assists), Olivia Kuznetosva (2 kills and 4 blocks) and Leah Liu (1 ace, 7 kills, 2 digs).
Centennial stats: Mailinh Godschall (7 kills, 8 digs, 1 ace), Abi Griffin (3 kills), Brianna Bossom (3 aces, 5 digs, 11 assists) and Caleigh Kim (11 digs).
Howard def. Mt. Hebron — 2-0 [25-17, 25-15]
Junior Darien Garner and sophomore Kelenna Onukwugha had 4 kills apiece to lead the Lions to a win over the Vikings. Howard improved to 4-0 with the win, while Hebron fell to 0-2 on the season. The Lions have yet to lose a set all season.
Howard stats: Darien Garner (4 kills), Kelenna Onukwugha (4 kills) and Jordan Redmiles (3 kills, 13 assists).
Glenelg def. Oakland Mills — 2-0 [25-12, 25-17]
The Gladiators picked up their first win of the season behind strong performances from Mackenzie Calhoun and Lindsay Kelley. Calhoun tallied seven kills and nine aces, while Kelley had 23 assists. Glenelg is 1-2; Oakland Mills is 0-4.
The win is the third straight for the Hawks after their season-opening loss to Reservoir. Grace Leska led River Hill (3-1) with seven kills. Long Reach fell to 2-2 with the loss.
River Hill stats: Emily Yang (4 aces), Grace Leska (7 kills), Shannon Hill (5 kills).
Long Reach stats: Indyia Haskett (4 kills, 3 digs), Isabella Mora (1 ace, 2 kills, 4 digs), Hayley Norton (7 assists, 3 digs), Mia Rubio (5 digs).
Hammond def. Wilde Lake — 2-0 [27-25, 25-17]
The Golden Bears earned their first win of the season with a sweep of Wilde Lake. Jenna Kreh paced Hammond (1-3) with 18 assists. Wilde Lake (0-4) was led by Amaiya Sancho, who tallied four kills and seven digs.
The Howard County cross country season kicked off Saturday with the county’s team’s splitting up into two different races at Centennial and Atholton. Centennial boys and Howard girls earned the day’s best performances in the meet at Centennial High School. The Eagles had six runners in the top eight in, while the Lions had eight of the top 10 finishers on the girls.
The Eagles’ boys team was led by Antonio Camacho-Bucks, who won the three-kilometer race with a time of 15:42. Bucks, a sophomore, had an impressive 2019 season as the only freshman to make All-County. Centennial’s Fernando Duraes (15:42) and Jacob Cole (15:45) were right behind Camacho-Bucks to finish second and third.
The Lions’ girls team was paced by Nimrit Ahuja, one of the top returning harriers in the county who crossed the finish line in 19:29. Howard’s Hannah Schwab, Jasmine Wilson and Elizabeth Holcombe finished right behind Ahuja to finish second, third and fourth, respectively.
While Ahuja and the Lions dominated the Centennial meet, it was a River Hill runner at the Atholton meet that ran the fastest time of the day. Hawks senior Faith Meininger won the race at Atholton in 18:38. In the boys race at Atholton, Long Reach senior Cameron Hindle finished first in 15:44.
Boys team results: 1. Centennial 19; 2. Howard 66; 3. Glenelg 82; 4. Reservoir 98; 5. Wilde Lake 129; Hammond 146.
Boys individual results: 1. Antonio Camacho-Bucks 15:42, Centennial; 2. Fernando Duraes 15:42, Centennial; 3. Jacob Cole 15:45, Centennial; 4. Kendall Phillips 16:28, Howard; 5. Jakob Werdell 16:39, Howard; 6. Luke LasCasas 17:02, Centennial; 7. Alexander White 17:09, Centennial; 8. Kyle Scherock 17:18, Centennial; 9. Dylan Jock 17:19, Glenelg; 10. Joseph Withee 17:21, Wilde Lake.
Girls team results: 1. Howard 16; 2. Reservoir 75; 3. Glenelg 80; 4. Centennial 86; 5.Wilde Lake 128.