With only five starters back from last year's team that beat St. Paul's, River Hill field hockey coach Shelly Chamness said her team was a little intimidated by the Gators this time.
The Hawks' tentative start enabled the No. 4 Gators to get an early jump and go on to a 4-1 victory yesterday at St. Paul's.
Speedy forward Claire Edelen had a hand in every Gators goal, scoring one, assisting on two and making the pass that led to the assist on the other one.
Early on, host St. Paul's (1-0-1) overwhelmed the hesitant Hawks (0-1-1) with its speed and cohesion. Most of the first half was played in the Gators' attacking end. River Hill didn't get within 25 yards of its own goal until the final 3:20 of the half.
By then, the Gators were up 2-0.
Tierney Hoover scored the first goal on a corner play midway in the first half, sneaking in on the left post to redirect a pass from Meghan Del Monte. Lizzie Schwarcz then batted in an Edelen pass out of a goal-line scuffle with 5:14 to go.
Then, what looked like a rout in the making turned into a close game for about 18 minutes.
River Hill made a run down the left side, rushed the cage and Nicole Mele took a chip shot that deflected off a defender's stick, sailing into the upper right corner. That cut the lead to 2-1 two minutes before halftime.
After the break, the Hawks kept up the offensive pressure. St. Paul's defender Leslie Koch made a high stick save with 20 minutes left to preserve the lead.
Soon after that, the Gators took over again and Edelen turned on a pass to the middle of the circle from Kristin Connelly for a 3-1 lead with 13:47 left. Eight minutes later, Edelen sent a short reverse stick flick toward the goal that Courtney Curlett finished.
Severn 2, No. 2 Severna Park 0: Juniors Emily Mason and Lindsay Brown scored second-half goals as the host Admirals upset the Falcons (1-1)in the renewal of one of the fiercest neighborhood rivalries in the metro area.
"This is a huge win because this rivalry goes back a long way, and this is the first time in my five years as coach that we have beaten them," said Severn coach Carolyn Abruzzo, whose team was led by goalie Jobie Manson and went to 2-0.