South River corners Arundel for 4-3 win

High off its upset over Notre Dame Prep, Arundel was still in comeback mode on Saturday morning.

But South River wasn’t there Friday night — and the Seahawks weren’t about to let the Wildcats do the same thing to them.

Led by a pair of goals from senior Allison Corey, South River squashed Arundel’s second-half rally to win, 4-3, and potentially earn a spot in the county championship.

“I believe it should secure us for home field advantage in the playoffs. We still have one more county game on Monday,” South River coach Megan Atkinson said. “Broadneck plays Chesapeake, could decide things. [The win] should set us up to be at home.”

The Seahawks (10-3) were opportunists, scoring four goals on five shots, whereas Arundel completed just three on 15. It was a quick reversal for the Wildcats (10-4), who’d gotten two goals off five shots on Friday.

And when it came to corners, South River was no less absolute, scoring on three of the first four to take a 4-0 lead by the beginning of the second half.

“We’ve worked really hard. They've taken the time to hold each other accountable at practice,” Atkinson said. “Fight each practice corner out like it's a real game. It's shown in the last few games.”

The first came less than five minutes into game, even after Arundel drew a pair of its own. South River keeper Kaitlyn Wallace (12 saves) fended the first two away, which meant that the Wildcats were already on a different path than the night before.

Against NDP, Arundel pulled two corners and scored on both.

“To be honest, last night was an anomaly for us,” Wildcats coach Carrie Vosburg said. “We don't normally score on corners, and we went 2-2, 100 percent. We're never that fortunate. It's normally like today.”

For the Seahawks’ first, senior midfielder Morgan Lee lined up and loosed to Corey. Corey settled her feet and fired.

Then it happened again. Lee, to Corey, Corey to goal. The only proof that it wasn’t a case of deja vu was the scoreboard, which proved three minutes had passed.

“[Corey has] been a big part of our corner offense,” Atkinson said. “She's been the most consistent in hard hits.”

The Seahawks drew their third corner, but when play resumed, Arundel keeper Tia Lysse (one save) squared up and made the stop.

So South River tried again for their next corner. This time, Lee dished to Corey, who took her shot, which didn’t find its way past Lysse. But junior forward Tommi Bresnahan snapped to attention, finding the ball and tapping it in for the third Seahawks goal.

With just 11:55 minutes left in the first half, Arundel were uncomfortable with the way things were. They matched the Seahawks shot for shot (four) but were unable to capitalize. Come the last Wildcats corner of the half, junior Kathleen Bevan took control. She rushed the net; the Arundel bleachers pounded to a thunderous level.

Then, the buzzer sounded. And the bleachers silenced.

For a little while, at least.

“Unfortunately, we gave up the first 30 minutes,” Vosburg said. “We were tired from last night. It was just unfortunate. It is what it is.”

On another corner — the fifth of the morning — Lee passed to senior defender McKenzie Jamison, who took a big swing and clubbed a shot at Lysse. The ball skipped off the keeper’s knee and into the net.

To Jamison, it felt good to see hours of corner work paying off.

“Our inserts have gotten a lot faster, which has definitely helped us, and we've been getting good shots off lately,” she said.

Then, the ball was in Arundel sophomore Nikki Seven’s hands.

After Wallace made yet another save, Seven took the shot. Goal, right?

No.

The goal was instead called a corner and Arundel’s first strike erased. But the Wildcats had finally shown the strength that had downed a nationally-ranked team the night before.

After another three failed corner attempts, Seven found the ball on the fourth-straight corner and broke through South River’s defenses — goal.

“I think with her, there's never a question. She's always giving 212,” Vosburg said. “She has a good energy. When she starts giving, I think people just feed off it so it's just imperative she does.”

The Wildcats had 12 minutes to undo the first half. Bevan dished to Seven, who cut a pass to senior Katie Keane. Wallace made the save.

Then, after another blocked corner, Seven stormed upfield. She whipped a pass to Keane, who found the back of an open chunk of net.

Suddenly, the Wildcats had cut the Seahawks’ lead in half with 5:54 on the clock, 4-2.

“We finally found our passing game, that's where our strength is,” Vosburg said.

Keane had fire in her feet. Seconds later, she fired again, both handing Arundel their third goal and sending the Arundel side of the bleachers into a hopeful frenzy.

“Arundel of the old would have never have come back,” Vosburg said.

She continued, “We've been really working on urgency drills. The fact that they came back with those three goals — and then unfortunately we had a goal called back. If you bring that into play, it's a different ball game.”

The Seahawks, now just one goal ahead, switched focus to heavy defense. Every time the Wildcats had possession, South River hounded the ball-carriers.

“That right there, it's not just a game on the field, it's a mental game,” Atkinson said. “You just have to stick with it, take a deep breath, come out composed, make sure you do your assignments on the field correctly.”

Arundel senior Emma Jeffries attacked the net — it could have been the Wildcats’ fourth and tying goal with just a minute left.

But Jamison swooped down on her and knocked the ball away from her goal and hurtling down the field. Game.

Though the loss likely sits Arundel for the county championship, Vosburg wasn’t unhappy with the way things turned out. Her eyes are on the weeks ahead, the next time the two squads will meet again.

“It's not a bad thing; it's a learning experience,” she said. “We could very well see them back in the region finals, and that's the game you want to win. Not today.”

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