First-year coach Hillory Dean has said he's going to make South River's girls soccer team "turn the corner" and improve on last year's 3-9 season.
In yesterday's 1-0 season-opening overtime victory over North County, the Seahawks turned up the heat early, attacking four-year starting keeper Lisa Garrison with 23 shots.
After Tonya Kolodziejski's shot (one of three for North County) sailed over the Seahawks' goal two minutes into the contest, South River -- behind the midfield hustle of seniors Tracy Zettle and Bea Ulrich -- simply had a more deliberate, powerful attack.
But a defensive miscue led to the winning goal with 1 minute, 40 seconds gone in the second overtime period. North County's sophomore defender Karen Wick -- attempting to clear a goal-bound pass by South River's ChristieBurke -- knocked the ball past Garrison's right side.
"It was a tough break. It just hit off of her shin-guard the wrong way," Garrison said. "But she's been there before when no one else was. We did a lot of things wrong today that we need to work on as a team. No one person lost the game for us."
But South River consistently beat the visitors to the ball.
Freshman Cassidie Dunbar (five shots), Burke(four) and junior Erin Early (three) accounted for the Seahawks' 12-3 advantage in first-half shots. North County had a 3-2 advantage in first-half corner kicks, but the Knights' defense spent most of the time backpedaling on its heels.
Beginning with Dunbar's low, 10-yard grounder that was scooped easily by Garrison, the Seahawks enjoyed an 8-1 shot-on-goal advantage and a 2-0 lead in corner kicks.
And when opposing players rushed the ball simultaneously, the North County player usually went down.
That was the case four minutes into the second half, when Kolodziejski collided with a Seahawk player, twisted her right ankle and left the game permanently. Kolodziejski, who was replaced by sophomore Michelle Smith, had to be taken from the field in an ambulance to Anne Arundel General Hospital.
"Tonya's definitely a ball-control person for us, so her dismissal put a damper in everyone's mind," said second-year Knights coach Marianne Shultz, whose club was 7-4-1 last year, including three one-goal losses that kept it from reaching the playoffs by the slimmest of margins. "What scares me is that she felt tingling in it (the ankle), which means it could be cracked or broken."
Without its creative technician in the middle, the Knights were dominated, 8-0 in shots and 3-0 in corner kicks, for the second half.
"We pushed really hard. Everyone was playing 100 percent," Zettle said. "There were a lot of injuries this game, but that's the way the ball rolls."
At one point late in thesecond period, North County defender April Hall nearly knocked the ball into her own goal.
Fortunately for the Knights, the ball caromed off the cross bar.
"There were some mistakes made and some opportunities passed up on offense. But we tried going to the flags and short passes," Dean said. "They're getting the hang of the technique, and this team has nowhere to go but up."
Shultz said, "People laughed when I said how good his team would be this year. But his girls were in shape and two times bigger than ours. It takes two of our strides to equal one of theirs. They're contenders."