Undefeated Hammond High's girls soccer team is living up to its No. 2 metro ranking, featuring exceptional quickness and superior passingability.
Both skills were on display Thursday when the Bears trounced Baltimore County power Dulaney, 4-0, in Towson.
Hammond (3-0) has outscored its opponents by 14-1. The Bears got their No. 2 ranking in The Sun's poll of metropolitan girls soccer teams, just behind Anne Arundel County's Severna Park.
Dulaney posted a 10-2 record last season and is expected to be one of Baltimore County's top teams this season. But Thursday's match was the Lions' first game and they weren't quite ready for Hammond.
"We're young this year and need to play some more together," Coach Evey Quinn said. "We gave them a good first half but just couldn't get the ball into the goal. Hammond was quicker than we were."
The Bears displayed some awesome quickness, led by sophomore Kisha Jett, who scored a goal and had an assist. It was her fifth goal of the season.
Jett began the game at stopper and marked Dulaney's outstanding sophomore forward, Aimee Vaughn. But after Hammond's first goal, Jett switched to forward.
Sophomore forward Natalie Serianni scored that first goal from 8 yards out in the 26th minute off a crossing pass from junior forward Samantha Andersch.
Eleven minutes later Jett used her quickness to get loose down the middle, and sophomore midfielder Kacy Williams hit her with a perfect pass. Jett kicked in a left-footed shot to goalie Courtney McClelland's left side from 6 yards out. Ahead, 2-0, Hammond was in command.
"They left a lot of seams open and we exploited them," Hammond coach Dave Guetler said. "But their goalie saveda lot of goals. It could have been an 8-0 game."
McClelland made two spectacular saves early in the first half. First she stopped a close shot by Andersch that ricocheted away. That shot was followed immediately by one from Williams, whose powerful kick McClelland caught in spectacular fashion.
But McClelland's magic deserted her early in the second half, when Andersch scored twice to put the game far out of reach.
The first Andersch goal was scored straight down the middle, as she took a pass from Williams and dribbled by McClelland for a goal.
On the next one, Andersch again came down the middle, this time with a pass from Jett. Andersch patiently waited for McClelland to come out before blasting it past her from 5 yards outside the goal.
"We like to spread wide and then play the ball in, but because the field was narrower than normal we had to take what we could get," Andersch said.
She now has four goals and four assists this season. Serianni has three goals, and Williams has one goal and four assists.
Hammond outshot Dulaney, 24-11. McClelland made 13 saves forDulaney. Amy Nestor made eight saves for Hammond.
"Hammond's controlled passing was the difference in the game," McClelland said.
Not to be overlooked, however, was the defensive play of Hammond's outstanding sweeper, Jackie Rieschick, who is still recovering from a bout with mononucleosis.
"I was glad the weather was cool so that Jackie could play," Guetler said. "If it is 90 degrees and humid her doctor has told her she shouldn't play. She's the heart and soul of ourdefense. She's smooth and always in control and rarely gets beaten. She's the best there is."
Guetler is still experimenting with the outside fullback positions and started Jennifer Brown and Karen Fink on Thursday.
"This is a big win for us because Dulaney is a Class 4A school and a perennial Baltimore County power that plays aggressively," Guetler said. "I wanted us to play a physical team before the county season begins because that's what we'll be facing."
He thinks the Oct. 8 game against Centennial holds the key to the success of Hammond's season.
"We'd like to win the county title this year," Guetler said.