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At River Hill, a friendly rivalry between championship soccer teams

The final score was announced and the bus hauling the River Hill girls soccer team to its state championship game erupted last Thursday.

The girls were happy to hear the River Hill boys had claimed a 2-0 win over Huntingtown to capture the Class 3A state crown.

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A bit later, however, the friendly rivalry between the two perennial state powers kicked in. The boys had just tied the girls' state championship total (nine) and the girls wanted to make sure that was temporary.

"Our first instinct was just everyone being happy for them and being excited that they won because they were so close last year," said All-Metro forward Alex Hamer. "And then later, we were thinking 'we got to get to 10.'"

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Sure enough, the girls team followed with a 2-1 win over Linganore to quickly reclaim top bragging rights in Clarksville.

It was quite a night for River Hill soccer at Loyola University's Ridley Athletic Complex, where the school's blue shined on the field and ruled the stands. It also was nothing new. The sweep marked the fourth time the River Hill boys and girls soccer teams won state championships in the same year.

Among the public schools in Maryland, only Howard County foe Centennial has matched the feat with its dominating programs in the 1990s, taking boys and girls titles in 1991, 1992, 1994 and 1995. Four other schools have swept once.

At River Hill, which opened in 1996, the boys program set the early pace with three straight titles from 1997 to 1999, four more from 2002 to 2005 and its eighth in 2007. But the girls finally caught up, winning their eighth title in 2012, and one-upped the boys last season for the first time.

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After failing to end the title drought with a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to eventual state champion Urbana in last year's semifinal round, the boys team was feeling the pressure going into this season. And the girls passing them didn't go unnoticed.

"The boys — especially after the girls had won two in a row — I think they put a lot of internal pressure on themselves on top of winning just because they want to so badly," said boys coach Matt Shagogue. "It was like 'Gee coach, the girls keep winning — we got to get one.' I was like 'Yeah, I'm with you.'

"The girls with three in a row now,is pretty special, so just trying to keep pace is almost impossible, but I think it's very healthy that the boys and girls get along so well and there's absolutely no animosity."

At halftime of River Hill's playoff football game, the soccer teams were recognized for their championship seasons. At the end of each season, principal Nick Novak hosts breakfast for the teams that claimed state titles. Along with the soccer teams, the boys and girls cross country teams also claimed crowns this fall, and the football team remains in the hunt.

The teams have forced the athletic director Rick Lloyd to plan an addition to the school's trophy case.

"It's jammed in there," he said. "We need to take out some more lockers and put in some more display cases because we're running out of room, but that's a good problem to have."

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