In its previous game, the Marriotts Ridge girls soccer team peppered an opponent with countless shots Thursday only to come away with one goal in a close win.
So the No. 10 Mustangs spent extra time in practice on finishing off scoring chances going into Tuesday's showdown against Howard County rival Glenelg.
It proved to be time well spent.
Poised and persistent on offense, Marriotts Ridge started fast with an early goal and put the game away with a three-goal spurt midway through the game for a surprisingly comfortable 4-1 win over the visiting Gladiators.
Senior midfielder and captain Morgan Crable set the positive tone for the Mustangs, neatly placing a shot from 18 yards into the right corner of the net for a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute. Senior Zoe Stukenberg made the score 2-0 with under a minute left in the first half, and Taylor Hensh and Samantha Terrill added second-half goals.
"We just knew we had to focus better this time because we really wanted this game and we definitely practiced a lot on our shooting. It feels really good, and it gives us a big confidence boost. I feel like we're just going to come out that much harder next time because we feel like we have it and this is our year," Crable said.
Completing the effort was a fine performance in goal from junior Jenna Bergquist. She finished with five saves — her biggest coming when she sent a heavy left-footed shot by Glenelg senior Sammy Creese over the top crossbar in the 14th minute with the score 1-0 — and she also handled a number of Glenelg corner kicks. The win improves Marriotts Ridge to 3-0.
"I was so proud of the team. I have never seen us give 80 minutes of heart. We never stopped running, we never stopped being first to the ball and I think that really made the difference in the game," said Mustangs assistant coach EJ Goldman, who was filling in for head coach Robin Grey, who missed the game because of family reasons.
Despite the setback, the young Gladiators, who start a number of underclassmen, found positives to build on. Earning six corner kicks in the first half, they had plenty of time with the ball but were unable to capitalize on the scoring chances. Down 4-0, they kept working and were rewarded with a late goal from sophomore forward Kayla Renehan.
First-year Glenelg coach Maureen Hammond said the defensive lapses that proved costly were fixable.
"Part of it is starting young girls. They've got to figure out how to play together, so it's still new to them and they're still learning and the things are fixable," she said. "I told them our motto this year is going to be we learn from it and move on — that's all we can do."
12 Marriotts Ridge 4, Glenelg 1
Goals: MR – Crable, Stukenberg, Hensh, Terrill; G -- Renehan.
Assists: MR – Zadjura; G -- Zucco.
Saves: G – Geist 3; MR – Bergquist 5.
Half: MR, 2-0