Glenelg field hockey secured its third straight regional title on Wednesday night with a 4-0 triumph over River Hill in the 2A East region final. Widening the scope, the Gladiators have won nine regional titles in the past decade — 2015 was the lone year they fell short of the state semifinals — and all four of their state championships have come during that stretch.
This sustained state-wide dominance begs the question: How does Glenelg do it?
“You saw at the end of the game, all the moms over here and the parent support,” coach Nicole Trunzo said. “I think that’s an awesome part of this program. My [athletic director] is supportive on the sidelines, my principal is on the sidelines, and the girls are amazing. They work hard, they’re positive, they’re easygoing. They’re perfectionists, but they just get it done.”
The Gladiators’ sustained success also includes having a strong group of seniors, Emma LeTellier said, and that’s no different with this year’s team. On Wednesday night, seniors accounted for three of the four goals, as LeTellier found the back of the cage twice and Mallory Jubb added the third tally. Sophomore Sammie Anderson capped the scoring on a tip-in with 13 minutes to play, though by that point, the game was all but decided.
With the victory, the Gladiators (12-1-1) advance to play Liberty in the 2A state semifinals Nov. 7 at Paint Branch. They’re also two victories away from winning back-to-back state championships.
“We just need to make sure we’re working our hardest, staying down, working together, connecting the passes,” said LeTellier, who has been a part of the Gladiators’ past two region titles. “I think we can take it all the way.”
Wednesday’s contest played out much like Glenelg’s regular season finale against Marriotts Ridge on Oct. 17 and their playoff rematch with the Mustangs on Monday night. The Gladiators put shot after shot on cage and almost never came away with a goal in either opening half. It was not until late in the first period, or in the opening minutes of the second frame, that the Gladiators began finishing their scoring opportunities to distance themselves from their county rival.
Against River Hill, the Gladiators put 10 shots on target before halftime and converted once — on a flick shot from LeTellier about eight minutes into the game. Sure, they did not have to worry about River Hill netting the equalizer, as the Hawks did not record a shot in the first half, but eventually the Hawks were going to produce a decent attempt on cage. Glenelg needed insurance.
Fortunately for the Gladiators, they did not have to wait long. Off a pass from senior Tess Muneses, LeTellier scored her second goal from the left side 88 seconds into the final period. She nearly completed a hat trick less than two minutes after that, but a Hawks defender was standing at the goal line to prevent her shot from dribbling across. However, Jubb was in perfect position to finish the rebound, putting the Gladiators up, 3-0.
“Glenelg is always extremely athletic and fast and tenacious,” River Hill coach Shelly Chamness said. “They always out-cut pretty much everyone to the ball, and then their passes were very accurate, and they hit the ball hard. So when you’ve got a hard pass that you’re receiving on the move, that’s really hard to defend.”
Chamness added her team’s passing was not nearly as accurate, which prevented River Hill (7-9) from building possession and resulted in Glenelg corralling many of its downfield passes. It wasn’t until the final minutes that the Hawks connected with each other in the final third, and that’s the only time when they put consistent looks on cage. Glenelg goalkeeper Rachel Barker (four saves) was just there to knock them away, sending the Gladiators to the state semifinals and the Hawks into the offseason.
““The girls loved each other and we played together well,” Chamness said. “I wish the record would reflect how good of a team we were.”
2A East region final:
Glenelg (12-1-1) — 4, River Hill (7-9) — 0
Goals: G — Emma LeTellier 2, Sammie Anderson, Mallory Jubb.
Assists: G — Kathryn Hoffman, Tess Muneses.
Saves: G — Rachel Barker 4; RH — Caroline Kral 14.
Halftime: 1-0, G