Already with a one-goal advantage, River Hill freshman midfielder Marella Virmani corralled the loose ball in the middle of the field.
With a Gladiator defender approaching, Virmani delivered a perfect through ball to senior Allie Lubitz. After a couple of touches, Lubitz fired the low shot past Gladiators goalie Bella Buscher for the Hawks’ second goal of the evening.
The score held for the final 49 minutes as the Hawks defeated the Gladiators, 2-0.
“I thought the difference between today and other games was that we really played like a unit,” Lubitz said. “Our chemistry was there today, we all just clicked. The energy was great from the bench and on the field. It was just a really great game. Every single day we are getting stronger, no one would have guessed that we would have been this strong.”
River Hill (3-1, 2-0) scored the opening goal in the 11th minute. Senior midfielder Ella Ferrer found a crease down the Hawks sideline pushing the ball upfield. Ferrer pushed into the box and fired a low shot far post past Buscher. Much of the Hawks’ early offensive success was generated by attacking out wide.
“I knew Glenelg’s strength was in the middle,” River Hill coach Brian Song said. “I said, ‘Let’s go attack their outsides and see what they give us.’ I think whether it was Gabby Demuren, Marella or Ella, they all were successful when they were making their runs outside. I said, ‘If you turn the corner and no one is there, keep going to goal, but if there’s someone coming, put a little cross for somebody else to finish.’ ”
The Hawks built a two-goal advantage at the break, behind timely finishes and strong defense. Early in the second half, Glenelg’s (1-1) offense generated its best chances of the evening, mostly led by 2021 Howard County scoring leader, Stephanie Lathrop.
Her best opportunity came in the 50th minute, finding a crease near post, but Hawks goalie Allie Billups was there to make the save. Lathrop was flanked by multiple defenders all evening as the Hawks prevented her from generating many uncontested opportunities.
“That’s something that we’re going to have to get used to as a team because that’s going to be a lot of team’s game plans to try and contain Stephanie,” Glenelg coach Vincente D’Antuono said. “She’s a dynamic player and we have some other dynamic players working in around her. Then once we get the system, I think those other players will really be able to step up as well.”
Junior midfielder Zareen Mathew often served as the primary defender. Despite a substantial size disadvantage, Mathew battled with Lathrop throughout the game, generating multiple takeaways and blocked shots.
“When you’re marking someone like that, you know that they probably have a good left foot and right foot,” Mathew said. “So, you have to be ready for them to do whatever. I have known Stephanie since I was younger, so I know how she plays already. We’ve been playing since we were 9 and I grew up with her. So, I know that she likes to do quick moves, going from left to right quickly. Honestly, it was just me keeping a strong mentality and keeping on my toes with the player, so that I knew where to go and how to defend her.”