Severna Park coach Joyce Stefancik made sure to mention her starting defense player by player -- Lindsay Nauman, Leigh Anne Emrich, Kristen Garrott, Meredith McAlister.
"And how about [goalie] Kerry York -- a freshman. She made some great saves," she added.
Defense has long been the forte in the rich tradition at Severna Park. Yesterday at Arundel, it was again at its best.
After sophomore midfielder Meg Miller provided the No. 6 Falcons with a lead in the final minute of the first half, it was time for the defense to take over and hold off a powerful Arundel attack to come away with a 1-0 win and the Class 3A-4A East region championship.
Severna Park (13-3-2) advances to the Class 3A-4A state semifinals set for 7: 30 p.m. Friday at Thomas Johnson High in Frederick. The Falcons will meet the winner of tonight's Liberty-Thomas Johnson West region final.
"Arundel beat us last year [in the region final] and then we tied them this year, so we thought maybe this would be our turn," Stefancik said. "I'm really proud; our kids rose to the occasion. Every kid I put out there played well and gave 100 percent."
Miller provided the Falcons with all the offense they needed when she collected a loose ball from 25 yards out. She dribbled twice while taking notice that Arundel keeper Mandy Schulz had left her goal line before carefully finding the same lower left corner that she had missed minutes before. The goal came 28 seconds before halftime.
"I saw her [Schulz] come out both times and knew I had to put that second one in," said Miller.
The only question left would be whether the goal would stand and the No. 11 Wildcats -- with junior standout Kelly Jordan leading the way -- did all they could in the second half to record the equalizer.
It never came.
"They played a deep sweeper knowing, up top, we have a lot of speed and made sure to contain us," said Jordan. "It was frustrating. We didn't get solid pushes when we had possession. It was a great game and could have gone either way."
York finished with nine saves, the biggest coming late in the first half just before Miller gave the Falcons their lead. Jordan found room down the right side and took a shot from just inside 18 yards, but York came out to cut down the angle and make the save.
Arundel coach Tom Degner was pleased with the effort from his Wildcats, who closed out a fine season with an 11-4-2 mark.
"Our girls played great," Degner said. "We just didn't capitalize on our chances. If you can't put the ball in the net, you can't win."
No.9 South River 5, Southern-AA 0: Sophimore Nancy Tucker scored two goals to lead the visiting Seahawks (13-2) to a victory over the Bulldogs (7-7-1) in the 3A-2A region semifinals.