A late bus and gridlock traffic from Edgewater to Gambrills did little to throw South River field hockey off its game on Tuesday.
The Seahawks still put on an impressive display, leading from start to finish against rival Arundel for a 2-1 victory on Carroll Field.
“We had a rough start [today],” senior forward Maddie Kandra said of the bus delays. “But then we had a great bus ride with our pump-up music, it brought our intensity. It made us ready.”
South River (1-1, 3-1) is where it wants to be at this point. The Seahawks’ leaders from 2019, the last time there was a true season, are all gone. After a loss to a formidable Broadneck team to open the fall, the Seahawks have proceeded to stack wins against Westminster, St. Mary’s and now Arundel.
That quick improvement stems from the 12 seniors setting the tempo to game-speed during practice, coach Hope Battista said. Three weeks in, it is translating smoothly to the field.
“It kind of felt like a new team,” said Kandra, who notched a goal and assist against Arundel. “It just felt different. As we grew throughout preseason, we became more of a family. Our team-bonding and practices every day just bring us together.”
Arundel just couldn’t finish anything it started in the first quarter.
But South River could. On its first awarded corner, Kandra scooped up the insert and fired a shot that ripped through the Arundel defenders crowding the line of the cage and put the Seahawks up early, 1-0.
“I think we’re stepping to the ball, which we’ve been looking to do in our past games,” Battista said. “… I think we’re just getting goal-hungry. They want to win. They want to be aggressive — which is exciting.”
Arundel’s defense hunkered down, batting back South River on the next corner and through the end of the first.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats offense got to tinkering.
Senior captain Lana Hamilton started the drive, as she often does, threading her ball in and out of Seahawks defenders. When she went for the shot, it got ensnared in the fray of players at the mouth of the cage.
But the Arundel forwards kept tapping feverishly at it, and when senior Christina Candella hit it, she struck gold, tying things at one goal apiece in the second quarter.
But even after that success, Arundel’s struggles with completing attempts lingered. The two teams ferried the ball back and forth without much success until, with about three minutes left until halftime, Elsa Emling locked on.
The South River-gray-clad midfielder lined a sharp shot past Brooks for the go-ahead Seahawks goal, which they’d carry into halftime, 2-1.
The scoreboard stayed the same the rest of the way.
“Our defense — shoutout to Gracie Solarz, who is literally a brick wall,” Kandra said. “Our defense is doing great with block tackles left and right.”
Arundel had a golden opportunity to pull even late, as the team was awarded a penalty stroke opportunity that Hamilton stepped up and took against South River goalkeeper Reagan Beall. But Beall rose to the occassion and plucked the powerful stroke from the air, spoiling Arundel’s last true scoring chance.
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“We’ve worked on our individual defense a lot; there’s still room to grow. It felt good to get a win,” Battista said. “I felt like it was all collaborative effort.”