Old Mill wouldn’t let Chesapeake get too many chances on Tuesday afternoon.
As it turned out, though, Chesapeake only needed one clean shot. The second was just for good measure.
The Cougars kept up their intensity all game long to score once late in the first quarter and again in the fourth and blank the Patriots, 2-0, in Millersville.
Given how much the Chesapeake offense monopolized Old Mill’s defensive end, it’s a credit to the Patriots defenders that the Cougars didn’t score sooner, and more often.
It’s a testament especially as Chesapeake (3-1) had eight corners in the first half and seven in the second. None resulted in goals. Too many touches, coach Stacey Mackintosh said, but that’s an easy fix to finish out the short season.
“I think they [Old Mill] had a very fast fly, which caught us off our guard a little bit at the beginning,” Macktinosh said.
Old Mill goalkeeper Stella Sanchez (eight saves) had to engage only a handful of times with flailing Cougars sticks, once making the stop necessary to spoil a would-be goal.
After so many trials and errors, however, the Cougars figured out if they’d just quicken the passes along the side and cross it just as swiftly, they’d be able to carve out the space to open a path to a goal.
“The longer we held onto it, the more they [Old Mill] were able to come back and block it off and clog the middle,” Mackintosh said.
The ball skittered across the 20-yard line and towards the front of the net. A few Chesapeake sticks made contact, but when the ball met Cougars senior attack Reina Patolia, wearing a “lucky” purple Band-Aid on her knee, it wouldn’t be another missed opportunity.
As time dipped below two minutes, Patolia took advantage of a momentary gap in Sanchez’s defenses and netted the lone Cougars goal of the half. It was exactly what Chesapeake practiced all week, and Mackintosh felt giddy to see her players execute it during an actual game.
“That set the standard,” Macktinosh said. “It felt good to get the first goal and get the blood pumping, get the energy back up, especially when you’re first starting and you can see the nerves a little bit.”
The Patriots pressed forward toward the latter part of the second quarter and into the second half with several corners to show for it. Old Mill attackers and midfielders lost steam as Cougars defenders herded them to the sides, leaned heavily into block tackles to pick off passes.
The Patriots depended heavily on now-Towson freshman Kaiya Sabur in the past; the multi-year All-County pick averaged double-digit goals season to season.
What coach Courtney Rice has seen in her absence is promising.
“It’s great to have a big senior class, seeing them set the standards on the front-line, midfield and back, so the younger ones can learn from them, watch and go, ‘Oh, that’s what I need to do next year,’” the first-year coach said. “The seniors want to keep a legacy going.”
Though Old Mill would not score, Rice did not feel let down. A would-be goal skimmed just out of the cage towards the end — it wouldn’t have won the game but it was what Rice wanted to see.