For the opening 60 minutes, the Old Mill-Severna Park girls soccer match wasn't what most people thought it would be.
The visiting Patriots were supposed to be one of the teams threatening to end the Falcons' stranglehold on the county.
Unfortunately for Old Mill, those plans have been put on hold for a little while longer, as their hosts registered three first-half goals on their way to a 3-1 win.
"I think we had a case of opening-game jitters," said Old Mill head coach Bruce Sponsler. "That's why I hate playing a team like Severna Park in the first game of the year. We'd rather start the season against someone else."
Severna Park (2-0 overall, 1-0 in county 4A league) took advantage of the Patriots' stage fright early in the first half.
Junior midfielder Cathi Hanson took a perfect pass from Betsy Anderson and hit a left-footed shot past Old Mill junior goalkeeper Amy Drapalski, who recorded 12 saves in her varsity debut.
Three minutes after Hanson's goal, freshman striker Erin Wylde maneuvered her way through the Patriot defense and rifled a shot from 20 yards out that deflected off of the crossbar.
Less than a minute later, Old Mill fullback Erin Grossberg inadvertently booted a Falcon pass into her own net. Striker Michelle Cope was given credit for the score, which put Severna Park up, 2-0, 20 minutes into the contest.
Approximately 10 minutes before the half's end, the Patriots were caught napping while on the attack.
After stripping the ball from a Patriot forward, Stephanie Roberts booted a long pass to a streaking Robinson just in front of the midfield stripe. The senior striker then blew past fullback Jennifer Bostak, drew Drapalski out of the goal, and popped a right-footed shot in the right corner of the net.
"I didn't expect for things to go that well for us that early," said Severna Park head coach Joyce Stefancik. "Our game plan was to stop their striker, Michelle Salmon, and I think we did a heck of a job shutting her down."
While signs of frustration began to tell on the Patriots (0-1), Sponsler refused to let his team surrender, as it came out with a different attitude for the second half.
"I just told them to settle down and just go out there and concentrate," said Sponsler. "I understand about them being a little nervous. Severna Park already had a game under their belts, but you can't take anything away from them. They are a very good team."
Old Mill's constant pressure on offense finally paid off when striker Teri Lee was tripped inside the penalty box by a Falcon defender. The feisty junior was rewarded with a penalty kick. Severna Park goalie Tami Riley made a diving save of Lee's shot, keeping her shutout intact, for the moment.
At the game's 74-minute mark, Lee got her revenge by unleashing a line drive from 30 yards out. Riley made a diving effort, deflecting the ball off of the left pole and into the net.
"You have to give them (Old Mill) a lot of credit. They were much more aggressive in the second half, and their sportsmanship was excellent. I think its a tribute to their coach," said Stefancik.
Sponsler said, "Like I said before, it's a shame we had to play them this early. I think we need a little more time to gel, but who knows, we might see them again in the playoffs."