Glenelg junior midfielder Kathryn Hoffman will admit it: she wanted revenge on Marriotts Ridge.
Hoffman could not seem to forget last season’s regular season finale, when the Mustangs scored late in the first half and went on to shut out a Gladiators team that earned a whopping 12 corners. She also remembers what happened the following day versus River Hill. The Hawks prevailed over Glenelg in overtime to share the county title with Marriotts Ridge, while the Gladiators fell short of the honor for the first time in a decade.
“We wanted to get this county championship,” Hoffman said, “because we were so close to getting it last year.”
Glenelg put itself in prime position to recapture the league crown this season by winning its first six games. But so too did Marriotts Ridge, which also sported a 6-0 county mark. Wednesday’s contest pitted the perennial powerhouses against each other.
In the latest edition of what has been a competitive rivalry, Glenelg proved itself worthy of being labeled the best team in Howard County. With five goals, 12 corners and seemingly countless quality shots on target, the Gladiators routed the Mustangs, 5-0, to reclaim the county championship in impressive fashion.
“I never really look at game scores, because no matter what, Marriotts Ridge is going to come out and play us really strong in the postseason,” Glenelg coach Nicole Trunzo said. “And going into the postseason, it’s a whole new setup because they’re a strong, great team.”
Glenelg (7-0 county, 10-1-1 overall) and Marriotts Ridge will in all likelihood square off in the 2A East, Section I final in a week and a half. And if that happens, Trunzo expects more consistency across both halves from her team than she saw on Wednesday afternoon.
Marriotts Ridge (6-1, 8-5) nearly scored in the opening five minutes on a blast from Emma Gladstein that forced Rachel Barker to make a sprawling stop. Three consecutive corners followed.
Possession shifted heavily in favor of Glenelg from there, yet the Mustangs continued to produce dangerous scoring chances throughout the opening period. If not for Barker, who made seven of her 10 saves before the break, the Gladiators may not have built a two-goal advantage at the break.
Glenelg’s first goal came off its fifth corner about 17 minutes into the game. Jenny Giampalmo inserted the ball to Hoffman, who quickly set up a give-and-go with Sarah Kang. By the time Hoffman regained possession, she had more than enough space to crank her shot into the back of the cage.
A second scoring sequence unfolded soon after, with Tess Muneses dribbling down the right side and firing a shot that directed off goalkeeper Grace Tolle and into the net.
But based on the Glenelg’s volume of opportunities, two goals seemed disappointing. There was a failed penalty stroke and an attempt from Muneses that sailed just over the top of the cage. Heck, the Gladiators all but lived in the Mustangs’ circle for the first 30 minutes and scored twice.
“During halftime, Trunzo told us that we really needed to finish,” Hoffman said. “We had so many shots, and we just couldn’t execute. So, coming into the second half, we knew we had to finish and just let the ball do the work and try not to overthink. Just hit it right in the circle and have our tippers in to just tip it right in.”
Twenty-two seconds into half No. 2, the Gladiators answered their coach’s request with a rebound goal from Emma Letellier after Muneses’ initial attempt. Less than two minutes after that came a shot from Sarah Cipolla that hit the padding of Tolle and ricocheted right to Letellier, who again finished the second-chance opportunity.
And with 24 minutes, 48 seconds to play in regulation, the scoring barrage continued. It was yet another goal off a rebound, this time from Mallory Jubb near the right post. The lead was 5-0.
“Grace [Tolle] was getting the first clears, and their forwards were down, set, ready to get the deflection off,” Mustangs coach Stacie Gado said. “We just weren’t in the right position to mark, to get the rebound off and get it out of the base line.”
Gado found solace in her defense holding Glenelg scoreless the rest of the way, but by that point, the game was long decided. Playing from behind did not help, either, as Gado said the Gladiators’ first goal changed the tone of the contest. The Mustangs spoke at halftime about how a goal of their own could swing back the momentum, but Gado admitted they “just couldn’t make it happen today.”
As for Glenelg, Trunzo said her team has steadily developed more confidence and better ball movement since the season began and hopes to continue building in those areas with the postseason right around the corner.
“When we meet Marriotts Ridge [in the playoffs], it’s going to be a rough game if we are not consistent.”
Glenelg (7-0, 10-1-1) — 5, Marriotts Ridge (6-1, 8-5) — 0
Goals: G — Emma Letellier 2, Kathryn Hoffman, Mallory Jubb, Tess Muneses.
Assists: G — Sarah Kang 2, Muneses.
Saves: G — Rachel Barker 10; MR — Grace Tolle 11.
Halftime: 2-0, G