Miller scored off penalty corners in both the first and second quarters. (As opposed to previous seasons, high school field hockey now plays 15-minute quarters instead of 30-minute halves.)
Last season, scoring off corners was a struggle for the Hawks against top competition. With stars like Puja Nanjappa and Quinn Kindbom, who is now playing field hockey at the University of Delaware, the Hawks consistently garnered corner chances but struggled at times to find the back of the cage.
However, finding success off corners was no problem for Chamness’ squad Monday, as the Hawks’ passes were crisp and decisive.
“We had smart passes, and we have enough big hitters that we can spread it out,” Chamness said. “This is what it’s looked like in practice, and we’ve been preaching to just play like you practice. That’s what they did tonight.”
All three goals in the game at Marriotts Ridge High School came near the end of evenly played quarters.
Miller, who had six goals and five assists last season, scored her first goal with about a minute left in the first quarter. Nanjappa, a sophomore who was a rare first-team All-County selection as a freshman in 2019, assisted the Hawks’ first goal after a sharp pass to an open Miller five yards away from the cage.
“We’ve been playing with each other long enough, and Maddie [Visilios] and Puja especially can find each other so fast,” Miller said. “It’s just all that time we spent together last year and this year, and we’re able to find each other now on those corners.”
The Hawks’ second goal showed Miller’s persistence. The corner opportunity seemed to die after a Hawks shot was blocked by Marriotts Ridge goalie Amanda Windsor. But a scrum of about seven players kept the play alive, and Miller was able to scoop the ball into the back of the cage to put the Hawks up 2-0.
“She was good last year, but she’s really stepped up a level this year with her aggression and her smarts,” Chamness said about Miller.
Marriotts Ridge, which won the Class 2A state title last season with a senior-laden squad, nearly made a second-half comeback. Junior Sophia Haghoo put the Mustangs on the board late in the third quarter after she capitalized on a deflected shot by teammate Kaylie Savage.
The momentum shifted with the goal, but the Hawks’ defense, led by goalkeeper Jocelyn Baker, held strong in the fourth quarter.
“The first half we definitely came out a little bit slow, but I saw a completely different team in the second half,” said Marriotts Ridge first-year head coach Molly Milani. “... I’m really proud of that second-half effort, and I wish we would’ve played the first half that way as well.”
Both teams are back in action Wednesday. River Hill hosts Glenelg, while Marriotts Ridge welcomes Mt. Hebron to its side of Route 99.
After a scoreless first three quarters, the Gators broke through on a goal by Sophie Pereria following a corner and that’s all they needed to earn the victory over the defending county-champion Vikings thanks to a stout defensive effort from beginning to end. Bella Pereria, Sophie’s sister, provided the assist.
“I can not be more proud of my team,” coach Megan Maloney said. “They have worked so hard these past two weeks at practice. They gave everything they had today and they came out on top.”
Long Reach 10, Oakland Mills 0
The Lightning won their season opener in convincing fashion, jumping out to a 6-0 lead by halftime and finishing with 10 goals overall. Six different players scored at least once, with Skylar Kohler leading the way with four goals.
Goals: LR — Skylar Kohler 4, Hannah Menasria 2, Ruby Walsh 1, Anna Carrillo 1, Kaydence Thompson 1, Georgia Day 1
Assists: LR — Kaydence Thompson 2, Ruby Walsh 1, Skylar Kohler 1, Anna Carrillo 1
Saves: LR — Daryan Allmond 5; OM — Katie Oliver 17, Saige Soskil 8
Half: 6-0 LR
Wilde Lake 2, Hammond 1 OT
Sophomore Audrey Loudin scored in overtime to help the Wildecats complete the comeback victory over the Golden Bears in the season opener for both teams. Hammond had grabbed the lead in the first quarter on a goal by Elizabeth Hughes and then Wilde Lake tied the game in the third quarter on a score by sophomore Matt Loughrige. The score stayed tied at 1-1 through the end of regulation.
Goals: WL — Audrey Loudin, Matty Loughrige; Ha — Elizabeth Hughes
Halftime: 1-0 Ha
Centennial 11, Atholton 0
Goals: C — Helen Baldy 3, Abby Cudzilo 3, Haley Harris 2, Jamie Cole, Meghan Creel, Lily Sullivan
Assists: C — Baldy, Abby Conrad, Lily Rainey, Haley Harris
Glenelg 3, Howard 0
Goals: G — Kamryn Henson, AJ Eyre, Annabelle Wolven