Trying to keep up with the Severna Park Falcons this season promises to be no easy chore. The Mercy Magic is the latest to find out just how difficult it is.
In the championship game of yesterday's second annual Kick Off Classic at Severna Park, the No. 2-ranked Falcons brought their "A" game and the result was an impressive 5-1 win against a solid No. 9 Mercy team.
Erin Dubina scored twice to lead the Falcons, who got strong midfield play from Meg Miller, outstanding defense from Lindsey Nauman and high praise from Mercy first-year coach Geoff Daras.
"Severna Park has all the pieces to have a dominant season -- it's their year," said Daras. "Our intent with the program's non-conference schedule was to play the best level. We knew that would be the case here. We accomplished a lot despite the 5-1 score."
The Falcons' experience, speed and fine-tuned skills dominated the day.
After blanking Walter Johnson, 2-0, to advance, Severna Park saved its best for the final with the five-goal outburst against a Mercy team that is finding its way.
Goals from Miller and Dubina gave the Falcons a 2-0 lead by the midway point of the first half.
When Mercy (3-3) challenged with a late first-half goal to cut the Falcons lead to 2-1, the home team answered.
Nicki Shepherd floated a shot past Mercy goalie Liz Lombardo from 18 yards out to send the Falcons into halftime with a 3-1 lead.
Shepherd and Lauren Mitchell scored in the Falcons' opening-game win against Walter Johnson. Mercy and Whitman played to a 1-1 draw after regulation and overtime before Candace Smith's goal in penalty kicks gave the Magic the 5-4 win.
No. 3 River Hill 1, No. 7 St. Mary's 0: She wasn't listed in the program, but Ashley Hooper made her presence known at the 1999 Pioneer Girls Soccer Shootout.
The sophomore forward's second-half goal gave River Hill the victory in the title game of the invitational at Anne Arundel Community College.
Hooper, whose name was mistakenly left off of the tournament program, headed a cross from junior midfielder Shannon Jackson for the game's lone goal.
The Hawks, undefeated in three games, reached the finals on the strength of a 2-0 victory against Broadneck. The Saints (3-1) defeated No. 10 South River, 3-1, for the chance to upset River Hill.
St. Mary's dominated most of the first half by keeping the ball in its offensive zone. Saints junior midfielder Melissa Anderson sent several crosses that rolled untouched or to a Hawks defender.
During halftime, River Hill coach Joan Kelso Smedley told her squad to be more aggressive.
The pep talk seemed to work as the Hawks were awarded a corner kick in the 29th minute of the second half.
The right-footed Jackson kicked a low ball from the right of St. Mary's freshman goalkeeper Sarah Sample, but a Saints defender blocked the ball back to Jackson.
Jackson then used her left foot to loft the rebound high into the air.
After the goal, St. Mary's kept pressure on River Hill junior goalie Jennifer Wright, but with the help of a defensive corps anchored by senior co-captain Natalie Klisas, Wright turned back every shot.
Saints coach Jerry Tobin praised the Hawks for forcing his team into dumping its usual short passing game to a kick-and-chase strategy.
In the consolation game, South River (2-1) beat Broadneck, 4-3, but not without a brief scare by the underdog Bruins. The Seahawks scored the game's first three goals on their way to what appeared to be an easy victory, but Broadneck notched two goals in a 17-second span of the 10th minute of the second half to narrow the gap to one.