Glenelg (18-0) has worked all season with the mindset of making another state title run and with a 3A/2A South region championship on the line Wednesday, it didn’t waste any time jumping on visiting Chesapeake-AA (9-9) to get one step closer to its ultimate goal.
The Gladiators scored twice in the first minute, and four within the opening two minutes en route to a 14-2 victory over the Cougars to claim their second straight region title.
“It is a new feeling. It is a good feeling, but it is something that we expected and we planned for," said Glenelg assistant coach Alex Pagnotta. "I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a team that has worked harder than this team and responded. I don’t think we have had a single practice where we had more than a single girl missing. All of our practices were, with 28 girls on the team, very intense. I feel like if you’re prepared everything takes care of itself on the field.”
Coming off an emotional and hard-fought victory over Marriotts Ridge Monday, the Gladiators went back to work against Chesapeake, which defeated Northeast in the Section II final.
Anna Callahan (four goals, one assist) got things started right off the opening draw, winning possession and taking it straight to the cage for the goal, taking just 14 seconds off the clock.
Glenelg added three more in the following 95 seconds to quickly build a 4-0 cushion.
“We wanted to get a quick start,” Pagnotta said. “We didn’t want a slow start. We wanted to try and minimize the mistakes, and because everybody has been working so hard we knew this was a game that we were going to get a lot girls in. We wanted everybody to feel like they are a part of this team, because championships are won in practice and without these 28 girls we wouldn’t be where we are at right now.”
The Gladiators settled in after their first four goals and worked the ball around offensively.
Callahan put away a free position goal with 10 minutes, 23 seconds left and Courtney Renehan followed with another score about three minutes later.
Georgia Esmond (two goals, two assists) fed Alayna Pagnotta with less than two minutes to go in the half and Pagnotta made sure to add one more with 17.9 seconds before the break, but Glenelg wasn’t done there.
After forcing a turnover in transition, Esmond received the pass on the fast break and quickly got it down to Maddy O’Brien who netted the goal with 6.7 seconds to spare to push the lead to 10-0, resulting in a running clock to start the second half.
“We just know when we get out there on offense we need to take care of the possession,” said Alayna Pagnotta, who finished with five goals to lead Glenelg. “Every possession we need to finish our shots and I think in the beginning there we were doing that, but we could have improved on that and I think in the second half we really picked that up.”
The Gladiators made a conscious effort to work through their offense in the following 25 minutes, and Pagnotta was the beneficiary on back-to-back plays, with Letellier assisting on both goals to extend the advantage to 12.
Renehan added on with 17 minutes left before Jesi Fernandes put an end to the run with a transition goal for Chesapeake.
The Cougars put away one more with time ticking down in regulation, as Jordan Harrell found Kara Blanchard on a fast break to bring the score to 14-2.
Glenelg didn’t walk away with the shutout, but the dominating victory kept their undefeated season alive and brought the program its eighth region title.
“The feeling is incredible,” Alayna Pagnotta said. “I think this one is actually a little better just because we went undefeated this season and we hope to get that state title.”
Glenelg is set to take on Oakdale in the state semifinal on either Friday or Saturday at Mt. Hebron High School. The Gladiators defeated the Bears 14-1 last season in the state championship game.
Glenelg 14, Chesapeake 2
G (18-0), Ch (9-9)
Goals: G — Pagnotta 5, Callahan 4, Esmond 2, Renehan 2, O’Brien 1; Ch — Fernandes 1, Ka. Blanchard 1.
Assists: G — L. Letellier 3, Esmond 2, Callahan 1; Ch — J. Harrell 1.
Saves: G —McSally 7, Haney 1; Ch — Beal 6.
Halftime: 10-0, Glenelg.