With No. 6 John Carroll girls soccer leading No. 8 Loch Raven by two goals at the half of yesterday's season opener, coach Gary Lynch urged his young Patriots not to back down. He wanted them to learn early how to put the opposition away.
The Patriots were listening.
Just two minutes into the second half, midfielder Amy Graul made an aggressive run down the middle at charging Raiders goalie Molly Rogers. The ball caromed off Rogers and carried to the left, where Lindsey Syphard stuck it in the open net for a 3-0 lead that held up.
"I'm happy with the way we played," said Lynch. "I couldn't have written this better. They're young but they wanted it. They realized there are two halves to the game. [Syphard's goal] was a big lift. That was sheer hustle from Amy. She forced that goal."
Syphard's goal added to first-half scores by Kristin Townley (also in the first five minutes) and Kate Wheelehan. Although the host Patriots kept the pressure on most of the rest of the game, they needed nothing more to win.
"It's always important for us to score right off the bat in the second half," said senior Syphard. "It's important for us to keep the momentum going."
The Patriots dominated the Raiders (0-1-1) by attacking out of the back time after time. With veteran sweeper Morgan Russell, All-Metro back Shannon Seipp and back Kerry VanShura, the Patriots moved the ball smoothly through the backfield and repeatedly dished it out to the wings.
"It was hard for us to play our offense," said Raiders coach Mike Parker. "They kept pushing us back, because they pushed everybody up. Their sweeper made runs through. Their stopper made runs through. Everybody back there made runs through."
The result? The defending Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champs outshot the Raiders, 20-1. The Raiders' only shot, by Jen Hild in the 72nd minute, was easily snared by Patriots keeper Maggie Pyzik.
For the Patriots, eight holes created by graduation, including All-Metro Player of the Year Jen Biscoe (Maryland), have been filled with youngsters who simply need experience.
"We're underestimated this year, " said Seipp of the Patriots" preseason No. 6 ranking after finishing last season No. 1 in The Sun and No. 13 nationally. "That just makes us really mad. We're going to come back and prove everybody wrong."
For the Raiders, who shared last year's state Class 2A title, it didn't help to lose veteran sweeper Theresa Lancelotta 10 minutes into yesterday's game.
When Lancelotta, nagged by a hip injury suffered in Wednesday's 1-1 tie at Mercy, realized she could not continue to play, it created a domino effect as Parker moved freshman Lauren Askey back to sweeper and halfback Christin Krejcik to stopper. Moving key distributor Krejcik out of the midfield took a lot of the punch out of the Raiders' attack, said Parker.