BALTIMORE — Anticipating heavy traffic en route to Seton Keough yesterday, the Severn girls soccer team arrived nearly an hour early for its opening-round game in the Catholic League Tournament.
Who could blame the Admirals for wishing the bus had continued past the Baltimore school?
Seton Keough forward Lydia Morel scored with eight minutes left in the first half, and teammate Ruth Fahnestock added an insurance goal late in the game, as the eighth-seeded Gators defeated ninth-seededSevern, 2-0.
The A Division Gators (3-12-1) advance to tomorrow'ssecond round at No. 1 Mercy, while the Admirals complete their firstseason in the B Division at 9-5-2.
Severn coach Gib Fitzpatrick had worried beforehand of a possible letdown from his players after Saturday's homecoming.
"They didn't play with the fire they played with in a few other games, but I think, skill-wise, they played one oftheir best games today. I'm very proud of them," he said afterward.
"We played an even game. (Seton Keough's) chances went in, and ours didn't."
Sophomore sweeper Sarah Long added, "In the beginning, I thought we were all really tired, but as soon as we got here we hadan hour to warm up, and I think it helped a lot. I think we played aswell as we could."
Severn outshot the hosts, 19-10, but had only a few genuine scoring opportunities.
"Their fullbacks played well.They were pulling up a lot more than what we're used to seeing in the B Division," Fitzpatrick said. "But I don't think they did anythingin particular to take us out of our game. We just weren't getting the open shots that we're accustomed to getting, and when we did, they didn't go in."
Senior midfielder Julie Ayers, who scored four goals in the Admirals' previous two games, including a hat trick in Saturday's 3-1 victory over Annapolis Area Christian School, said she didn't notice the Gators doing anything special to shut her down.
"I did know that it was hard for me to get the ball," said Ayers, who had15 goals and six assists this season. "They just played really well,and it was hard with such a short field, when their defense was pulling up."
The closest Severn came to breaking through was early in the first half, when a shot from junior striker Robin Quinton (12 goals, 10 assists) hit the top post. She was wide left with a second-half attempt, when the Admirals were beginning to control the ball and applying some pressure to Gators keeper Karen Petro (nine saves).
Morel's goal came seconds after Long left the field after colliding with Fahnestock. She returned after a brief rest, but her absence already had been felt.
"I didn't see the play, so I don't know if therewas anything I could have done," said Long, who frequently tapped the ball back to senior keeper Jennifer Wassif (eight saves) whenever aSeton Keough player closed in.
Fitzpatrick said, "She plays almost all of every game. It throws things out of whack when she's gone."
Another Severn defender, freshman fullback Kelly Creech, ran down Morel late in the first half and knocked the ball free to prevent a one-on-one situation. But the Gators would score with under three minutes remaining in the game when Fahnestock lofted a shot over Wassif, whose diving stop of a Morel blast earlier in the half kept the Admirals within one goal.
Even with the loss, Fitzpatrick deemed the season a complete success, especially in light of a second-place finishin the division.
"I think they should be proud of themselves," hesaid. "They worked hard in every game, and a lot of the seniors get to go out in style, because they've been playing every year."
Ayers said, "When I first started, we had a .500 season, and then we were6-7. So, it's definitely been a great senior year."