Some of the talk going into the Anne Arundel County girls soccer season focused on how the gap between the good and the very good was closing.
The Chesapeake Cougars spent 80 minutes at South River yesterday proving the theory.
Standing up to the defending county champion and sixth-ranked Seahawks, the Cougars got a goal from junior midfielder Jessica Kreczmer late in the first half and stayed with their plan in the second to come away with a season-opening 1-0 upset.
Chesapeake used strong marking, mistake-free sweeper play from senior Tracey Dahlen, 10 saves from senior goalkeeper Catie Wienke and Kreczmer's goal - from 30 yards, for her first varsity score -to beat the stunned Seahawks.
"We knew what we were coming in to because they haven't changed much from last year when they just ran us off the ball," said Chesapeake coach Jerry McBee. "We're a little quicker and we've worked hard on marking and we did an excellent job of that. That was the key - we didn't allow them to get comfortable on the field."
In the 30th minute, Kreczmer had the ball on her left foot with time and space and took a shot that sailed over South River senior goalkeeper Jessica Bennett, off the top of the crossbar in the far right corner and into the net.
"I just set it up on my correct foot and let it go," Kreczmer said. . "We've been preparing a really long time for this game, working really hard, and I guess it all paid off."
The Cougars didn't sit back in protecting their lead in the second half, which helped limit the anxious moments. The Seahawks' best chance to tie came in the 47th minute when junior midfielder Rachel Fry had a clean shot from 10 yards that Wienke turned away. As was the case most of the game, Dahlen cleared the rebound out of danger.
South River coach Keith Fontaine said the game's outcome came down to intensity, and the Cougars had more.
"That was a Chesapeake team that had a lot of heart, came to play, picked up on the momentum of the early goal and never let go. And we were not able to respond," he said.