Bel Air ousted by South River with stepped-up 2nd-half play Bobcats defeated, 2-1, in Class 3A-2A semifinal

Girls soccer

November 12, 1996|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

A "challenged" South River responded to a halftime talk from coach Will Pharr, and its improved play paid off in a pair of goals, as the Seahawks defeated Bel Air, 2-1, in a Class 3A-2A state semifinal at Howard High School last night.

The Seahawks (13-1-2) will play Liberty, a 3-0 winner over Oakland Mills, in the championship game Saturday at noon at Dundalk Community College.

Most of the highlights were crammed into the closing 15 minutes, beginning with each side scoring within a 30-second span, and capped by Jess DuVall's goal with eight minutes left. Both teams had scoring chances down the stretch but could not finish them.

Tied 1-1, sophomore DuVall got the game-winner, her 10th goal of the year, when she converted a cross from the corner by senior Theresa Beckett, the team leader in goals (13) and assists (eight). Crystal Bassford set up the play with a good throw-in from 40 yards out, and Beckett took the ball deep before passing into the middle.

"I challenged them at the half," Pharr said of his team's dramatic second-half improvement. "We have five seniors and I told them they had only 40 minutes of soccer left if they did not step up their play.

"It was noticeable right from the start of the half. They started going to the ball with conviction and winning the 50-50's. We definitely stepped it up to another level."

Still, it was Bel Air (10-6) that opened the scoring with the first playoff goal allowed by Erin Graham, South River's junior goalkeeper (11 shutouts in the first 15 games).

Senior Lauren Hess, one of three seniors (all starters) for the Bobcats, got loose 15 yards out in front of the goal and put the ball past Graham into the corner.

It would be hard to say whether the ensuing play was the result of a fired-up Anne Arundel team or a Bel Air team that momentarily relaxed. Whatever, the Seahawks challenged immediately, and with several players crowding the goal mouth, Shannon Simmons got her foot on the ball and pushed it into the goal.

"Our level of play went down -- no doubt about it," Bel Air back Nikki Hentz said. "They picked it up, and if we had played the way we did in the first half [when Bel Air dominated], it could have been different."

Pub Date: 11/12/96

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