At the start of every season, South River girls soccer coach John Sis challenges his senior class to lead the team to a higher standard than the one set the year before.
In clinching the Class 4A East region championship Tuesday night with a 3-2 win over Arundel, the No. 2 Seahawks have done just that and now they are looking for more.
Senior forward LaRel Rogers scored two goals to help build a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead and senior goalie Lyndse Hokanson made six saves - including a sharp reaction save late in the game - to preserve the region-clinching win in Edgewater.
The Seahawks, who have now won 10 straight games to improve to 15-2, advance to Friday night's state semifinals against the Urbana vs. Thomas Johnson winner at Richard Montgomery High. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
"It feels so good, just amazing," said Rogers, who has 12 goals and four assists on the season. "I think what has made this season really special is that we were kind of the underdogs going in, but always knew we could do it."
Against Arundel, it didn't come easy, although it may have looked that way after Rogers made it 3-0 early in the second half. The Wildcats (14-4) got two goals from Carley Keer, the second coming with nine minutes left, and created more pressure in injury time that Hokanson and the Seahawks defense were able to fend off.
"We knew we could do it," Keer said. "Yeah, they're a good team, but we felt like we were a good team, too. It just didn't happen."
The Seahawks, who won a 2-1 overtime game against the Wildcats during the regular season, proved opportunistic on offense and organized on defense in taking a 2-0 lead at the half.
Early pressure netted a goal in the fifth minute from Rogers, who was able to get behind the Wildcats' defense and then find the lower left corner from 12 yards for a 1-0 lead.
Arundel was able to get forward regularly, but the Seahawks defense and Hokanson were flawless in the first 40 minutes. The Seahawks then made it 2-0 with five minutes until the break when junior forward Kari Cunard sent a ball forward to a streaking Danielle Piccirilli, who was able to find the same lower left corner for the two-goal advantage.
Goals: SR-LaRe. Rogers 2, Piccirilli; A-C. Keer 2. Assists: SR-Cunard. Saves: A-A. Ross 5, Grosbach 4; SR-Hokanson 6. Half: SR, 2-0.