For 30 minutes Wednesday, the Anne Arundel County field hockey championship was deadlocked in a defensive struggle.
But in the third quarter of the David versus Goliath match between Old Mill and Severna Park, the 33-time county-champion Falcons finally broke through the Patriots stifling defense.
Delanie Abere scored a highlight-reel goal just over five minutes into the third quarter to get the ball rolling and Katelyn Haufe added an insurance goal as time expired in the period to lift Severna Park to a 2-0 victory for its 34th county championship. The Falcons have either won the county title outright or shared the county championship 14 times since the start of the 21st century.
“We are knocking on the door, knocking on the door, knocking on the door, and then we finally went in the door,” Severna Park coach Shannon Garden said. “We had a lot of corners. But credit to their defense. They did a really nice job back there. Plus their goalie did a nice job.
“We just had to keep trying. … We started moving the ball better, less dribbling, more passing, which is our mantra.”
Through the first quarter, the Falcons had accumulated five penalty corners and generated four shots, but Old Mill goalkeeper Regan Gardner was up for the challenge.
On the other end, Falcons goalkeeper Charlotte Kramer made a beautiful kick save on a shot by Tori Martz three minutes into the first quarter to keep the Patriots off the board.
Severna Park added another three corners and two shots during the second quarter but, after the first 30 minutes, the game stayed scoreless.
Following intermission, the chances kept coming for Severna Park as Danielle Bonk broke in alone, but the Patriots defense hustled back to thwart the chance. Just over two minutes later, Bonk fed a cross to Abere, who dribbled around a defender and deposited the ball into the back of the cage for the 1-0 Falcons’ lead.
As time was running down in the third quarter, Ava Drexler-Amey found Haufe open on the far corner of the cage and Haufe scored into the open net as the horn sounded for the 2-0 Severna Park lead.
“They packed it in tight on us. We were trying, with our transfers in the backfield, draw them out, and then get the ball down quickly so at least we had three or four out,” Garden explained. “That started working. Again, sometimes it’s just a lucky touch and that’s what we were looking for — a lucky touch, both times. The second one especially. That was crazy.”
Old Mill coach Courtney Rice admitted that since they haven’t played against Severna Park since 2019, including not playing the Falcons during the regular season this fall, the Patriots were somewhat apprehensive. But her squad did a great job hanging with one of the county’s elite programs.
“Our girls, they did not give up. Our biggest thing was that they were going to make mistakes and they were going to get beat on plays, but it was that layer. So we were really focusing on that next step,” Rice said. “If the first level got beat, then the next girl is there. Constantly recovering for each other. They were supporting each other the entire way, which is why we were able to break their passes.”
Both coaches admitted that playing a game like this will help their teams going into the state tournament next week.
“We love good games going into the playoff season. We especially love to play good teams that we haven’t played,” Garden said. “It shows us a lot of different styles. We get better adapting to different styles. We really, really like competitive games like this. All of our games have been very grueling.”
Rice was extremely satisfied with the play of Gardner, who finished with seven saves. Both slotted into the Class 4A East Region 1 tournament with Meade, Glen Burnie and Severna Park, the two teams could potentially face one another again next Wednesday if both teams win their games on Monday.
“It was amazing to be able to play them tonight. Now we have the opportunity to play them again next Wednesday and being able to know how they play, we can make the adjustments,” Rice said. “It’s just now bringing the same intensity and this confidence going into next week when we start the playoffs.”