When two top teams meet in field hockey, it's usually one or two big plays that determine the outcome. That's what happened in Wednesday's matchup between No. 1 Severna Park and No. 2 South River.
Goalie Cait Colletti and Madeline Ross made key plays at opposite ends of the field – one in each half — to help visiting Severna Park pull out a 1-0 victory at South River in an Anne Arundel County league game.
Colletti stopped a penalty stroke in the final minute of the first half. Ross then scored midway through the second half to give Severna Park the early-season victory.
Colletti (eight saves) made a save on Stacey Mackintosh's penalty corner with 11.4 seconds remaining in the first half. That kept the game scoreless and gave Severna Park (3-0, 1-0) some momentum heading into the break.
"That's big," said Severna Park coach Lil Shelton. "That gives you a little oomph."
Said Colletti: "In my mind, I was like 'yes!'"
Severna Park had some chances in the first half but finally broke through in the second half. South River (2-1, 0-1) missed on a few opportunities just after the break, and that left the door open.
The game-winning play began when the Seahawks had some trouble clearing the ball. Severna Park kept it in the circle, and Kelsey Fielder sent the ball towards the goal from the right side.
That's when Ross got in front of South River goalie Shannon Flanagan (seven saves) and was able to knock the ball past the keeper and into the goal with 14:06 remaining.
"I redirected it through the goalie's legs," Ross said.
The Seahawks had a few good chances in the second half but couldn't convert. Jenny Milligan broke in on the right side and got a shot from a good angle, but Colletti kicked it away with just over 22 minutes remaining.
South River sent a penalty corner just wide left with about 7:30 remaining, and the Falcons were able to hold on.
Shelton said the Severna Park-South River rivalry always gets circled on the Falcons' schedule, and her players were nervous during school waiting to get out on the field.
"It's always a big game," Shelton said. "We've been rivals for years and years — 1-0 is nothing new."
South River coach Katie Corcoran said her team certainly had some good scoring chances. They just couldn't get the ball into the goal, and Severna Park made enough big plays to come up with the win.
"They were the better team tonight," Corcoran said. "We couldn't finish tonight."