Senior Ryn Feemster dreamed of this moment since she was a little girl. What it would mean to rush to hug her goalkeeper, not after a region final win, a county championship title, a close win over Broadneck — a real state championship win.
No Severna Park girls soccer team had done it in 20 years, and not for a lack of trying. Coach Rick Stimpson called it a bit of bad luck in a penalty kick loss in 2019.
But this team wasn’t going to let it get to a shootout, or leave it up to luck. This unbeaten Falcons team performed a level of precise consistency that went unchallenged from the very first day to this last, as they secured a 2-0 shutout over Mt. Hebron in the Class 3A state championship Saturday. It’s the seventh title in program history.
Stimpson always instructs his teams to “win the last game.” And last year, when the same crop of talented Falcons dropped early in playoffs after absorbing those lessons, he changed his mindset.
“We just said, ‘Hey, we’re going to attack every game,’” the coach said. “No point to being focused on being perfect the whole season. We wanted to develop the mindset for when we got to playoffs.”
Why, in the last game, would Severna Park (17-0) change anything about its machine-like system? Both goals, scored by senior forward Sara Kreis and sophomore Ava Scott in the final 10 minutes of the first half, weren’t generated by offense. They’d be the first to tell you that.
“I don’t think it was just me or Sara that really put toward that goal,” Scott said. “We had the finishing touch, but it was the whole build up and everyone together. It was Maria [Bragg] reading the ball for us. I just tapped it in.”
That impeccable defense only permitted three goals this season, but the last one stayed with the Falcons like a scar. No matter what they did through this postseason, they couldn’t let a team score on them first again. Not like South River did.
In the first half, Mt. Hebron had its chance to do what the Seahawks could only pull off after meeting Severna Park three times: put the Falcons in a deficit. Vikings senior Ellie Fielder whipped a shot at the corner, a glitch in the Severna Park back line.
And Lily Diedrich stitched the opening up, the save in hand.
“We never wanted it to happen again. We never want to be in a losing situation again,” said Feemster, a defender. “We were like: we need the first goal.”
It’s a credit to Mt. Hebron’s defense that it withstood Severna Park’s nearly nonstop siege for 34 scoreless minutes. Then, Kreis broke down the gates with her goal, on a feed from freshman Izzy Burleson. Scott followed Kreis within the minute for a 2-0 lead, puffing out her jersey with pride.
Knowing the Vikings were more than capable of striking back, the Falcons celebrated for a moment, then quashed that excitement through halftime.
“We’re like, all right, we need to settle down,” Feemster said. “We needed to be a cohesive team. We play as a zero-zero team all the time — just play it from a defensive standpoint and move it up the attacking side.”
While Severna Park’s offensive press didn’t cease then, it did give way to a more convincing push from Mt. Hebron. The Vikings issued waves of white-and-gold up the pitch, using every one of the final 40 minutes to either try to shoot or take the ball from the Falcons.
Most often, Falcons defenders headed off the attacks before they reached Diedrich. Some Mt. Hebron players rattled off long-range rockets that didn’t land. But then, Vikings midfielder Ava Skaggs sped toward Diedrich, a potential goal loaded on her foot. Diedrich dropped on the ball to end the threat.
“You always feel comfortable,” Kreis said. “You know no matter what, the [back line] is so crazy good. It’s amazing up top, knowing you can take a risk, maybe I can just do something different and see what happens, because you always know they’re behind you.”