As the final seconds of overtime ran off in Thursday’s girls soccer showdown between Anne Arundel rivals Severna Park and South River, there wasn’t the usual groans that are often heard after teams settle on a draw.
Instead, there was an appreciation of the competition, evidenced by the post-game handshake line with the “Good game” comments coming out a little louder from both sides.
For 100 minutes, the host Seahawks and Falcons — ranked No. 4 and No. 5, respectively — pushed each other to the limit with neither team bending on defense in a 0-0 draw.
Both teams remain unbeaten with South River at 8-0-2 and 4-0-2 in Anne Arundel and Severna Park 7-0-2 and 5-0-2 in league play.
“I loved watching that soccer — that was good,” South River coach John Sis said. “From their possession game to our go-at-em, I was very happy with it and I thought 0-0 was a fair result.”
In last year’s Anne Arundel County championship game, the teams also played for 100 minutes of scoreless play before the Falcons won on penalty kicks.
Thursday was much the same minus the penalty kicks.
Despite the Falcons enjoying quality minutes connecting up the field and the Seahawks’ more direct approach leading to a handful of corner kicks and dangerous long throws, both defenses were up to every challenge.
It was the Falcons who had the most viable scoring chance and it didn’t come until there were three minutes left in the second overtime. Freshman midfielder Sydney Holmes won a ball at midfield and sent a through ball to the left for Isabella Espinoza. The senior forward made a decisive cut inside to get some room from her defender and unleashed a shot from 12 yards that South River goalie Julia Cobb (six saves) got her right hand on to send it over the crossbar.
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While the Seahawks never significantly tested Falcons senior goalie Katie Byrd (five saves) with any point blank shots, they had the ball in front of her plenty with four corner kicks, a couple other free kicks and a number of long throws taken by Morgan McLean or Rebecca McClanahan. Byrd was aggressive cutting off chances when she could get to the ball and the back line, led by Lena McClaughlin, Leah Meyers and Olivia Altman, was sure on its clears.
When Severna Park coach Rick Stimpson was asked who stood out the most in the effort, he quickly responded: “Everybody was great today.”
It was necessary.
“Both teams played well, obviously very passionate,” he added. “I thought we kept the ball well, but we just weren’t quite clinical enough in the final third. It’s a good rivalry with both teams coming in playing well, so it was a good gauge for where we are in the season and where we want to be.”