Somehow, South River needed to find a way to keep Severna Park's Lindsey Poland in check, said coach Will Pharr. Do that, and the No. 7 Seahawks might be able to upset the Falcons and win the county championship.
With sophomore Colleen Walsh marking her closely, Poland didn't score yesterday. But that was only half the story.
Junior Jess Marion provided the exciting conclusion.
Marion split two defenders and scored two minutes into overtime, leading South River past No. 6 Severna Park, 1-0, at North County.
The two teams had played to a scoreless tie Sept. 28, when three of Poland's shots hit the crossbar. Poland (eight goals and three assists) didn't get many opportunities to score yesterday. And Marion (21, four) made sure there wouldn't be another deadlock, putting in a left-footed shot from the left side.
"I kept getting breakaways, but I couldn't get a foot on the ball," she said. "I was just trying to hit this on on the ground, cross it, and hope it bounced off [goalkeeper Shannon Chaney] to someone else."
Severna Park coach Joyce Stefancik marked Marion with junior Jess Miller, but she also had to worry about senior Cassidie Dunbar (10, 10), one of the reasons South River had scored 44 goals and remained unbeaten.
Of Marion's heroics, Stefancik said: "That last shot was a beauty. When someone shoots one like that, you just turn around and say, 'Nice shot.' "
Marion was one-on-one with Chaney at 28:50 of the first half, but Chaney got both hands up and deflected the ball over the crossbar.
And Marion was wide with another shot from close range with about five minutes left in the half, after Chaney had made two quick saves.
Poland broke free on the left wing with about 13 minutes left in the second half, but she lost her footing on the soggy field.
Marion created her own room with about 13 minutes left in regulation when she spun and shot from 18 yards out. For a brief moment, it appeared the ball would sail over Chaney's head, but she reached up and made her eighth save.
"Walsh has been marking the other team's best scorer all year, and I asked her to step up one more time," said South River coach Will Pharr. "I take my hat off to her."
It was the first time the county's top two soccer teams had been pitted against each other to determine a county champion.
Severna Park (10-2-1), trying to get back to the Class 3A-4A state final, will meet Bowie at 1 p.m. Saturday in the South Region playoffs. South River (11-0-2) takes on Atholton Tuesday at 8 p.m. in the 1A-2A South Region playoffs.
The Seahawks have won seven in a row since a 2-2 tie with Arundel Sept. 30.