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Severna Park field hockey rallies past Crofton, 2-1

The fall chill in the air served as a good reminder to Severna Park how close the postseason truly is. Facing off against a quality opponent like Crofton, only reinforced that reality.

After falling behind by a goal early, Severna Park rallied back past the Cardinals for a 2-1 victory Tuesday in the second-to-last game of the regular season.

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Falcons coach Shannon Garden felt happy to play this kind of contest, and not just because Crofton may be Severna Park’s opponent in the county championship game next Monday.

“Oh my gosh, we need these games. We really need these games,” Garden said. “Credit to Crofton, especially their goalie [Ryleigh Osborne] — wow, she was fantastic because we fired on her like crazy.”

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Osborne, only a freshman, tallied 16 saves on Tuesday, predominantly in the second half. Despite the monopoly the Falcons (8-1, 10-2) imposed on offense, the Crofton keeper wouldn’t let anything by. Severna Park midfielder Noel Stefancik pulled off the Herculean feat in the fourth quarter, her stick the one out of a flock of Falcons to slip the go-ahead goal past the Crofton (9-2, 9-2) defense.

“The goals we got were just scrappy,” Stefancik said. “The last one was a little hop, a bunch of sticks going in there. Once we were able to get the goalie down, we could pop it over her.”

At the start, the Falcons didn’t know what to expect from the Cardinals playing their first year as a varsity program.

All Severna Park knew was how important a win would be to get the seeding it wants come playoffs. The Falcons didn’t expect a team aggressively controlling the play in the first quarter.

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Sophomore Kylie Corcoran slashed a shot toward Severna Park keeper Charlotte Kramer, where the ball then bobbled around the goalkeeper’s knees and hit freshman Olivia Feeley’s stick before falling in for a score.

“They’re right up there with us,” Garden said. “It took us a little while to adjust.”

The Falcons battled to correct that affront, driving hard to the circle only to knock high shots over and wide of the net.

Junior Ava Drexler-Amey finally took advantage of one of those pushes in the second quarter, bringing it down to the circle where she cracked a direct shot on the Cardinals’ net in to score.

Severna Park didn’t let its counterparts get a whiff of scoring out of the break. The Falcons placed an emphasis on stopping the ball defensively before it crossed midfield, every time.

“We needed to mark up defensively, cut their passes off, things we know how to do. Keep possession of the ball,” Garden said. “I feel like in the first half, we were a little sloppy throwing the ball away.”

Locked up at 1-1, the Falcons applied most of the pressure around Crofton’s circle in the third quarter.

No matter how many corner attempts awarded (nine), Severna Park repeatedly ran into a wall in the Cardinals’ defense being led by Osborne. On the ninth corner of the night, a Falcons’ attempt finally went through.

Defender Gen Mullervy shipped a shot to Osborne’s feet, where she worked to kick it away as she had so many already. A crew of Falcons dropped into the scrum, desperately pushing for a break when Stefancik made the fortunate shot to score and take the 2-1 lead.

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