The psychology of soccer is sometimes as important as the skills, strategy and individual matchups.
An example of the importance of the mental aspect was No. 1-ranked River Hill's 14th straight victory yesterday.
After playing a dominant but scoreless first half in which the Hawks held 10th-ranked Wilde Lake to one shot while hitting two crossbars and one upper post, River Hill had to battle its own complacency in the second half before achieving a 3-1 victory.
"I'd like us to be more focused than we were today because then we play faster and crisper," River Hill coach Bill Stara said.
River Hill (5-0, 4-0 league) made some mistakes that it might not have made under a faster tempo -- lazy kicks and poor decisions that led to Wilde Lake scoring chances.
It took a kick off the line by Hawks sweeper Elliott Marquis in the 49th minute to prevent the Wildecats (2-2, 2-1) from taking a 1-0 lead on a breakaway by Bobby Ratcliffe.
"That opportunity started with a mistake back at midfield by one of our players," Stara said.
That near-miss woke up River Hill, however.
In the 56th minute the Hawks' leading scorer Adom Crew (six goals, two assists) scored from 10 yards out after Wildecats goalkeeper Matt Thomas dropped a ball in front of the goal. Crew, unguarded, two-touched a right-footer over Thomas.
Greg Hinkle converted a penalty kick in the 57th minute after Wilde Lake was called for a handball in the box. It was his third goal this season.
"It was frustrating not finishing and hitting crossbars," Hinkle said. "But we knew after the first one came, the second and third would follow."
Brett Endler made it 3-0 in the 61st minute on a sliding shot at the back post. Crew's long cross set up Endler's score.
Freshman Evan Rodway scored for Wilde Lake in the 63rd minute off a rebound following a shot by Forrest Watson.
"Danny Mongello did an outstanding job today guarding Crew," Wilde Lake coach Dave Nesbitt said. "We were hurt when our sweeper got a charley horse in the first half, and I had to move [Ian] Rodway to sweeper for the second half. I thought we were lucky they didn't score in the first half, but if Ratcliffe scores on the breakaway in the second half, the whole game changes."