No. 6 Severna Park is going to its 19th state semifinal next week, but with 16:14 left to play in the Class 4A East regional final Thursday night at No. 5 South River, Falcons coach Lil Shelton said she "wouldn't have bet you a nickel" on the possibility.
But Shelton - who had told her team at halftime, "The worst thing you can hear on the bus going home is: 'We should have won.' " - saw her Falcons rally from a two-goal deficit to tie it at 3 in regulation and then win on penalty strokes, 3-2, after two scoreless overtimes.
Severna Park (14-2) will play the winner of the Dulaney-Chesapeake-Anne Arundel game in the state semifinal Monday at Broadneck.
"It wasn't a sure thing," Shelton said after the game. "I'm wrung out. I am. They tried to wear us out with the way they hit the ball, but in that comeback we played beautiful hockey. Pass, pass, score. We had to get those goals just to have a chance."
After a scoreless first half, South River came out strong with back-to-back goals by Mary Milligan before Severna Park even got a good look at the goal. But Madison Thomas scored on a corner to energize her teammates, and though Brooke Griffin was able to regain her team's two-goal advantage on a corner play at 16:51, the Falcons kept coming.
First Marissa Balleza scored, and then Casey Pohlmeyer tied it.
"We just had to put the ball in the cage," Pohlmeyer said. "Tying the game was the greatest feeling I've ever had. And once we finished regulation, we just kept going."
If not for an outstanding performance by South River goalie Emily Melanson (10 saves), Severna Park would have wrapped up the game in regulation and again in overtime.
"Emily is an outstanding goalie," said South River coach Katie Corcoran, whose team finished the season 16-2. "She played an amazing game, and I'm so proud of my entire team. We've had a remarkable season."
Both of South River's losses were to Severna Park, the first a 3-2 defeat in overtime during the regular season.
Melanson would not give way. She was particularly impressive in the first overtime, when she stopped Hannah Balleza one-on-one. And the Seahawks were almost rewarded with victory when Griffin appeared to score off a corner play. But although it looked as if the ball had bounced off a defender's foot, officials waved off the goal.
It was Hannah Balleza who wound jumping for joy at the finish, when she put away what turned out to be the deciding shot in the game-ending series of penalty strokes.
Goals: SP- Thomas, M. Balleza, Pohlmeyer; SR-Milligan 2, Griffin. Assists: SP- Ballard; SR- Griffin, Mackintosh. Saves: SP- Dalisera; SR-Melanson 10. Half: 0-0.