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South River girls soccer advances to state semifinals with win over Severna Park

The Class 4A East region in girls soccer has been particularly stacked in recent years and because most of the teams come from Anne Arundel County, the playoffs have added intensity to familiarity.

It's a case of survival of the fittest and No. 4 South River has it down pat.

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In Tuesday's region title game against No. 9 Severna Park, senior forward Olivia Laurenzano scored with 30 minutes left in the second half and the Seahawks were able to maintain the advantage to come away with a 2-1 win over the Falcons.

"I'm just speechless about it. I couldn't have done it without the rest of the team," Laurenzano said. "I saw the opening and went far post like we do in practice — just saw it and went for it."

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It's the third straight East region crown for South River and the second straight year it defeated Severna Park, 2-1, in the final.

The Seahawks (15-3) will make their 10th state tournament appearance when they meet the North region champion — either Catonsville or Howard — in the state semifinals on Friday or Saturday at Richard Montgomery High School. The date and time will be determined on Wednesday.

After the Falcons (9-5-4) tied the game at 1 with under two minutes to play in the first half, the Seahawks made sure to get the momentum back to start the second half. Taking a short feed from Kristen Castle on the left side, Laurenzano made a sharp cut to the middle before unleashing a shot from 16 yards away that found the lower right corner.

South River never lost its momentum, protecting the lead with possession and strong defense when needed. The Falcons had one last scoring opportunity in the final two minutes when Sarah Gallert hit a left-footed shot from the left side that was stopped by junior goalie Emily Proctor.

Severna Park was without goalie Alexandra Putkowski, who separated her shoulder in the previous round against Arundel. Jessica Wieber replaced Putkowski and made seven saves.

Things were going well for the Seahawks for the majority of the first half. The home team got an early goal when senior midfielder Aly Hill hit a heavy shot from 35 yards away that went over Severna Park sophomore goalkeeper Wieber just seven minutes into the game. They continued to control play and created a couple other scoring chances, but weren't able to add to their advantage.

The Falcons responded favorably with an opportunistic effort from Gun, who got behind the Seahawks defense and neatly placed a shot from 14 yards away inside the far post to tie the score at 1 with under two minutes to play.

"We were here last year and here again — we've made it to the regional championship three of the last four years," Severna Park coach Todd Clark said. "We won four years ago and we got to get back to there. All of this is just a growth process. The kids will learn from it, they'll take away from it and they've been here before."

One-goal games have become the norm when the teams play. In addition to the 2-1 wins during the postseason, the Seahawks beat the Falcons, 1-0, on Oct. 7.

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