Last night's Severna Park/Chesapeake girls soccer game was billed as the showdown between the county's top two teams and possibly the game that would end the Falcons' unbeaten streak at 38.
But the two-time defending state champion Falcons did all the damage they needed in the first half, out-shooting the Cougars, 14-2, winning nearly every 50-50 situation and building a 3-0 lead, which held up to the end.
By halftime, it looked like business as usual for the two-time defending Class 4A state champion Falcons.
"I don't think there was any question that they had the better ball control skills," said sixth-year coach Lin Sullivan, whose Cougars, led by Amy Myers (12 goals), had outscored their previous opponents, 33-7.
Their last game was a 5-0 shutout of Annapolis. The Cougars dropped to 7-1 overall, 6-1 against the league.
The Falcons (8-0, 5-0) got goals in the 12- , 30- and 37-minute marks from senior midfielder Betsy Anderson (11 goals, two assists), senior defender Tina Riley and junior midfielder Nicki Cecere, respectively.
Anderson, Cecere and sophomore midfielder Amy Carnaggio helped generate an attack that had the Cougars on the defensive for most of the first half.
"I think our skill and speed were the two main factors," said Falcons coach Joyce Stefancik, who has a career 113-28-3 record, including a 38-0-1 record since losing to Meade in overtime in the 1987 Region IV championship game.
Stefancik's Falcons have won 31 consecutive games, five county titles and six regional titles. The team, which defeated South River, 3-1, in its previous game, has outscored its rivals, 35-4.
"I think this was the best short passing I've seen from this team," said Stefancik. "It frustrates a lot of teams."
Including the first meeting between the two teams won by Chesapeake in 1980, Severna Park has a 11-1-1 series advantage. The Falcons battled the Cougars to a scoreless tie in 1987.
Last year, the Falcons blanked the Cougars during the regular season (6-0) and in last year's Class 4A Region IV finals (2-0).
Anderson got her pass from Cecere just beyond the midfield stripe, brought the ball to the top of the box and lofted her drifting shot up into the left corner over the outstretched hand of Chesapeake keeper Cindy Herbert.
"I moved up and was going to pass, but I decided to take the shot myself," said Anderson. "We definitely were fired up after I scored."
Both Riley's goal (a header) and Cecere's came off of corner kicks, an area of the game where Sullivan feared the Cougars had their biggest advantage.
"Before the game, we knew the things we had to look out for -- open players at the top of the box and their set plays," said Sullivan. "But even if you take those goals away, they wore us down with their short passing game."
Chesapeake surged in the second half, out-shooting the Falcons, 3-0, with a corner kick in the opening minutes, but keeper Tami Riley was in position to stop each shot, and the Cougars were not able to capitalize.
"We never let them have any real shots," said Tina Riley, a first-team All-Metro, All-County defender. Her twin sister, Tami, registered her 27th career shutout and her fourth this season.
Tami recorded a school-record 13 shutouts last season and has allowed just 13 goals in 2 seasons as a starter.
Last year's 15-0 Falcons scored a school record 95 goals -- that's 6.3 goals per game.