While Chesapeake has long maintained a successful program, South River has quickly emerged with the help of a four-year crash course under coach Laura Gerrior.
In yesterday's season opener for both teams, the No. 9-ranked Seahawks provided further proof that they have arrived, asserting themselves early and going the distance for an impressive 3-0 home win against the No. 11 Cougars.
Robin Larkin scored a goal in each half and defender Raina Edelstein, midfielder Jackie Colacicco and forward Anne Cline - all seniors - collectively dominated the middle of the field.
After ties in the previous two seasons, South River was finally able to break through with a win over a young Chesapeake team.
"This was very important for us. We were hoping for a great start and this makes a statement," said Gerrior, who led the Seahawks to eight wins last fall and their first trip to the region finals. "Our defense was very consistent getting the ball up there and we kept it moving. It was awesome."
Getting two goals from Larkin, a non-starter, is an indication of just how far the South River program has come.
"Before, we would have a couple of very good players here and there. But now, we're starting to get more depth all across the field," said Colacicco, who set up Larkin's first goal.
"We never really received much recognition before, but [coach Gerrior] has done so much for the program. Now we have much greater expectations. This is a great start for us. We're pulling it all together."
The Seahawks were faster to the ball right from the start yesterday, putting the pressure on a young Chesapeake defense and finally benefitting when Larkin tapped home a ball sent across by Colacicco with 13 minutes left in the first half.
It was Chesapeake's turn to come out fast at the start of the second half, earning three straight penalty corners. Some good scoring opportunities came with them - a Mandy Bathras shot with 14 minutes left the best - but South River goalie Kristen Cousin cleanly kicked it aside.
Larkin made it 2-0 shortly after and Jessie Grow added another goal late as the Seahawks were able to wear down the visitors.
"It's tough to lose eight seniors and try to reload with a large sophomore class. We know what kind of work we need to do and it'll be fixed. We just didn't go to the ball today and South River came out fast and strong," said Chesapeake longtime coach Jerry Taylor, who couldn't recall the last time Chesapeake lost to South River, if ever.
Chesapeake goalie Meghann Bush finished a busy afternoon with 14 saves.
Dulaney 1, Westminster 0: Sophomore midfielder Eric Frey scored a goal midway through the first half to give the No. 13 and host Lions, the defending 4A state champions, a victory in the season opener for both teams.