After 30 days of practice, top-ranked Mount Hebron couldn't wait to get the season under way yesterday, but the Vikings took a while to hit their stride.
In a game that featured five ties, the Vikings put together a five-goal, second-half spurt to pull away from No. 7 St. Mary's en route to a 10-8 victory at Weems Whelan Field in Annapolis.
All-Metro midfielder Lauren Kickham scored three of her four goals, including the game-winner, during the run. Her last goal, with 9: 18 left, gave the Vikings the biggest lead of the game, 10-6.
Most area teams, including St. Mary's (2-1), had already played several games, but the Vikings' only previous game, Monday against No. 4 Roland Park, was postponed when only one official showed up. The game was later canceled.
Yesterday, St. Mary's looked sharper than the Vikings at the beginning of the game.
"We had a little bit of a slow start," said Vikings coach Chris Robinson, "but we really came on in the second half and played up to our potential. After we got down 6-5, the kids really stepped up and moved up to a different level of intensity. It was a good win against a very good team."
In the first half, the Vikings struggled against a sticky St. Mary's defense, led by Courtney Thornton, Jess Mikula and Kristen Gaudreau, and anchored by goalie Jamie McGraw, who made eight of her 12 saves in the half.
"She came out on shots a lot, and we're not used to that," said Vikings attack Polly Purcell. "We just shot. We didn't fake. We showed her pretty much where we were going with the shot. Second half, we needed to really concentrate, run our plays, execute well with picks and cuts and really take care of the ball."
The Saints, however, controlled the first two draws of the second half and scored twice before the Vikings took a shot.
Lana Smith scored off a loose ball in front of the crease to tie the game at 5 two minutes into the half. Brooke Dieringer then found Bryer Davis unmarked in front of the goal a minute and a half later for a 6-5 Saints edge.
Then the Vikings took over. They began to challenge McGraw with better shots, and they moved the ball with more precision, knocking the Saints defense a little off guard.
"In the second half, our defense got a little confused," said Saints midfielder Kelly Coppedge. "They use a lot of isolations, and we had trouble sliding on those."
Purcell started the Vikings run with a free-position goal to tie the game at 6. Kickham made it 7-6 and Stephanie Scurachio pushed it to 8-6 before Kickham scored back-to-back goals to boost the lead to 10-6.
Alessandra Salatti and Davis had the final two goals for the Saints.
Purcell finished with two goals and two assists, and Scurachio had three goals for the Vikings. Dieringer had a goal and two assists for the Saints.