As Glenelg field hockey junior Tess Muneses possessed the ball to the right of the cage Wednesday against River Hill, senior Emily Bacon knew where she needed to be.

“Coach [Nicole] Trunzo always tells me that I have to be on post, so I just knew as soon as she lifted her stick back for the swing, that I had to be there.”

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Moments earlier, Muneses stole the ball from a Hawks defender trying to execute a clear. She then dribbled once, reared back and fired a cross into the circle. Bacon positioned her stick for the tip in and hoped for the best.

Cheers and jumps of joy followed, as Glenelg had just taken an early 1-0 lead in the 2A East region final. Bacon threw her hands in the air and hugged her nearest teammate. After River Hill shut them up two weeks ago, the Gladiators had a first-half cushion they would maintain until the final buzzer.

They would add another goal less than five minutes later and go on to shut out the Hawks, 2-0, clinching its third 2A state semifinals appearance in the past four seasons. They’ll next play Kent Island at Broadneck High School on Nov. 8.

“They beat us to too many balls, so we didn’t gain control of the game like we have been in other games because they cut off a lot of our passes,” River Hill coach Shelly Chamness said. “I think they outran us — and we knew they were fast.”

Chamness did not remember seeing this type of speed from Glenelg when the two teams met in the regular season finale. In that game, the Hawks secured a 1-0 overtime win to clinch their first county title since 2008. Glenelg, which also lost to co-county champion Marriotts Ridge the day before, entered the playoffs without at least a share of the league crown for the first time in a decade.

The Gladiators avenged the Mustangs defeat with a 3-1 win Monday and continued their redemption tour against River Hill. On offense, they earned nine corners...in the first half. Those set pieces led to both goals, the second of which senior Georgia Esmond scored with about 13 minutes to go before intermission.

And with the Hawks struggling to create decent scoring chances, that two-goal halftime lead seemed even larger.

“They did well,” Trunzo said. “Once we picked it up defensively and in our midfield — our little midfielder crew — I think they started to get into their own game, step up to the ball and get back into their passing game.”

Despite holding a 2-0 advantage, Glenelg played the second half as if it trailed by a goal. The Gladiators controlled possession and kept the ball in their offensive third, blocking River Hill’s attempts whenever it tried to clear it.

With the Hawks offensive firepower, Trunzo said a 2-0 lead could still be a “pretty dangerous game.” She also did not want to put added pressure on her defense, which shut down their opponent up until that point.

Bacon also knew there was a chance Glenelg could lose its lead. So, her and her teammates continued to produce scoring opportunities. They wanted to ensure a regulation victory.

Even in the final minutes, with the game all but decided, Trunzo urged the Gladiators to push forward. When they moved into the circle, yells of “get a corner” came from the sidelines. Then she’d bellow “finish, finish, finish,” hoping they’d be able to close out the game with a third score.

Glenelg came close a few times but couldn’t breakthrough. It would have to settle for two goals, which proved to be more than enough in yet another playoff triumph.

“I’m very excited as a senior, because I did not want this to be the last game of the season,” Bacon said. “We have big things in the future coming, and I think we can make it all the way.”

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2A East final

Glenelg (8-4) — 2, River Hill (11-4-1) — 0

Goals: G — Emily Bacon, Georgia Esmond.

Assists: G — Tess Muneses.

Saves: G — Rachel Barker 4, RH — Caroline Kral 13.

Halftime: 2-0, G.

Chesapeake (AA) — 4, Mt. Hebron (11-6) — 0

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