After allowing its first goal of the season and heading into halftime trailing visiting Mt. Hebron 1-0 Thursday, River Hill coach Matt Shagogue was eager to see how his team would respond to its first real adversity of the fall.
Behind a pair of Justin Harris goals after intermission, the Hawks passed with flying colors.
Harris, a senior midfielder, found the back of the net in the 50th and 60th minutes of the contest to lead the way to a 2-1 come-from-behind victory — improving River Hill to 5-0 overall on the season and dropping Mt. Hebron to 4-1-1.
“We had a plan coming in and we didn’t come close to executing it in the first half,” Shagogue said. “So at halftime a lot of what we talked about was identifying the adjustments we needed to make, more energy being one of them, and then challenging them to step up and finish. And that’s exactly what the guys did. It really was a tale of two halves in a lot of ways.”
Harris, who has now scored at least one goal in each of the Hawks’ three county games this season, said the turnaround against the Vikings started in the middle of the field after intermission and then carried over into the offensive third.
“Mt. Hebron is a very hard team to play against physically, especially on 50-50 balls, so that’s something we put a lot of emphasis on in the second half,” Harris said. “We worked hard to get more possession and that allowed us to get the opportunities that we finished.”
On the other side, the Vikings lost for the first time. Mt. Hebron coach Mike Linsenmeyer said, despite the setback though, that there was still plenty to build on moving forward.
It was a goal from freshman Jimmy Linsenmeyer with 12 minutes left in the first half, off a feed from Sebastian Tobar, that had put the Vikings ahead. The score stayed 1-0 in favor of Mt. Hebron heading into halftime.
But a rejuvenated River Hill squad simply stole the momentum after the break.
“I thought our effort was there, especially to close the first half. We just quite weren’t mature enough or fit enough yet to close out a full 80 minutes,” Mike Linsenmeyer said. “But I like our pieces and we showed our potential today that if we keep working hard, we are capable of beating a team the caliber of River Hill later in the season.”
On River Hill’s first goal that tied the game at 1-1 with 30:04 left in regulation, Alex Smedley won a ball on the right wing and eventually threaded the ball through traffic to a cutting Harris for a one-touch goal into the left corner of the net.
Harris said afterward that initial score was the big one.
“I think that first goal was crucial because we got our energy back up and it was a great ball by Smeds,” Harris said. “I just [had to] swing my foot through it and it found the goal.”
River Hill kept pressuring and got the go-ahead score just 10 minutes later. This time it was Alex Krause that won a ball along the right end line and was able to feed the ball across the box to Harris, who one-touched a ball into the upper right corner of the goal past Vikings’ goalie Justin Carguilo (5 saves).
Mt. Hebron threatened down the stretch for an equalizer, but never managed any additional real quality shots on River Hill goalie Patrick Sherlock (2 saves).
The victory marks the first time River Hill has beaten Mt. Hebron since 2015. The Vikings won the meeting between the two teams in 2016 and last year the game ended in a 1-1 tie.
Getting through a test of this nature so early in the season is something Shagogue said is critical to the team’s aspirations moving forward.
“The last two years, we’ve had to do a lot of scoreboard watching after our game against these guys, relying on other teams to lose in terms of that county race. Now, we are in a position where we are in charge of everything,” Shagogue said. “I understand there are other [county] teams still that haven’t lost too and it’s a long season, but for us — considering the history and how good this Mt. Hebron team has the potential to be — this is a big one. Definitely something for us to build on.”
River Hill 2, Mt. Hebron 1
Goals: RH — Harris 2; MH – Linsenmeyer.
Assists: RH – Smedley, Krause; MH – S. Tobar.
Saves: RH – Sherlock 2; MH – Carguilo 5.
Half: 1-0 MH.
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