As he examined the lacrosse playoff picture, Annapolis coach Dan Hart likened South River's situation to that of a man dangling for his life on the edge of a cliff.
"They've had too many losses, and theyknow they can't afford another. They won't want to lose to us," saidHart, just hours before his Panthers took the field against the Seahawks on Friday night.
The Panthers won an overtime thriller, 13-12, when junior Dan Flynn rifled home his sixth goal of the night with 2 minutes, 10 secondsleft in the extra session.
His effort ended a contest that was tied on four different occasions and in which the Seahawks held a 4-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
The Panthers were penalized nine times and had to survive the Seahawks' 7-for-8 extra-man goal scoring. South River was led by Matt Czoka (who had four goals and fourassists in the game), Brian McElhenny (three goals, one assist), Chris Messineo (two, four) and Kevin Collison (two, one).
Annapolis was 5-of-7 in extra-man situations.
"We could have just gave up," said Flynn, who leads the Panthers with 30 goals and eight assists. "But we got the defense when we needed it. We usually come out fast, but tonight we came out slow. I think they caught us and everyone by surprise."
Chris Turner (three each in goals and assists) took an assist from Pat Flynn to give the Panthers their first lead, 10-9, with30 seconds left in the third quarter.
Dan Flynn took a relay fromChristian Boone (one goal, three assists) as the Panthers went up, 11-9, 20 seconds into the fourth.
But then the Seahawks outscored the Panthers, 3-0, for a 12-11 lead. Turner scored with 3:05 left in regulation to send the game into overtime.
"We dedicated this game to Coach Robert Glassman, whose mother just passed away, and he wasn't here tonight. We gave up 12 goals, so without him here, it was tough for the kids," Hart said.
The Panthers (8-0 against the 4A league, 8-2 overall) could clinch the county 4A title with a Tuesday victory over North County. The Knights improved to 10-1, 8-1 with Friday'svictory over Queen Anne's.
The Panthers lead Region IV and play host to a tough 2A squad in Southern next Friday and a struggling GlenBurnie in their May 7 season finale.
"South River's always playedAnnapolis like this, and they've probably got the best coach in the county," Hart said. "But we've still got three tough ballgames comingup, and they're all going to be like this. We came through like champions."
South River was 5-0 before losing three of its last four games -- to North County, 4-3, Broadneck, 8-5, and Severna Park, 9-8. The Seahawks were coming off a 6-1 victory over Chesapeake and had hoped to turn things around.
Friday's excruciating loss may force the team to an an early exit from the playoff picture.
South River coach Greg Carroll knew his chances were slim before last night's game.
"There's probably no use talking about playoff chances," said Carroll, whose Seahawks (6-4) are fourth in Region IV and 10th in the overall playoff scenario. "The reasons things are the way they are nowis that two of our losses were one-goal games and we should have wonthose."
Make that three.
In the first quarter, the Seahawks had an 18-10 ground-ball advantage to out-sprint the Panthers for the early lead. Czoka scored twice, and Collison and McElhenny each scoredonce.
Songey made it 4-1 with his man-down goal with 1:40 left, and Boone tallied again with just two seconds remaining to make it 4-2.
During South River's second man-up situation, after Annapolis keeper Chris Stauder (14 saves) was called for slashing, Seahawk Troy Smith scored on an assist from Czoka. Czoka added his third goal of the game with seven minutes left in the period, and the Seahawks led, 6-2.
But Dan Flynn answered with two goals to bring the Panthers towithin 6-4, and Mike Fraioli made it 6-5 on a man-up goal with 3:45 left. The teams traded goals as the half ended with the Seahawks' holding a one-goal lead.
Flynn also scored the goals that tied the game at seven and eight in the third quarter and assisted Jon Songey (two goals) to knot the game at nine.
In an earlier game, Annapolis girls lacrosse team had a .500 record entering its game with South River -- which came in just one game above .500.
The two teams reversed position, as the Panthers (5-4) won, 15-8, led by Cara Garton (four goals), Lisa Jordan and Cory Harmon (each with three goals and one assist), and Cristie Samaras (two goals).
The Seahawks (5-5)had scoring from Kristy Moltz (three goals), Michelle Behny (two goals, one assist) and Peggy Schreiber (one goal, two assists).