Seeking state glory, River Hill, Glenelg make foes wary Opponents cite quality of competition in county

Girls soccer

November 14, 1997|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

One team has felt a year-long pressure to win. The other has felt little pressure at all.

One team won the county championship. The other finished seventh.

One team has the greatest number of skilled players of any squad in the county. The other has better athletes than players with top soccer skills.

River Hill and Glenelg might not have a lot in common, but there is something that bonds them. Each is one win away from becoming a state champion.

No. 10-ranked River Hill (15-2) plays eighth-ranked South River (14-2) for the Class 2A-3A championship at noon tomorrow at Dundalk Community College. The Gladiators (7-7-4) take on Baltimore County champion Hereford (13-0-3) at 5 p.m. for the Class 1A-2A title, also at Dundalk CC.

Here is look at the games:

River Hill vs. South River

The county champion Hawks are coming off a less than inspiring 1-0 state semifinal victory against Loch Raven Monday night.

"We didn't play very well, especially in the first half," said senior Kathy Gaertner, who scored the game-winner in the second half. "We let them come out and do whatever they wanted. We seemed a little scared of them. We picked it up somewhat in the second half. I'm just really happy we came through with a win."

South River, which played Liberty to a scoreless tie in last year's Class 2A-3A championship game, won its semifinal over Middletown, 2-0. The Seahawks are athletic, have good size and are very aggressive.

"They're going to be really tough, because they go for every ball," said Gaertner, who has a team-high 15 assists. "We have to make sure we're really aggressive from the start."

Nichoal Zamarripa, a junior center midfielder, leads South River with 14 goals and 12 assists. Nancy Tucker has 13 goals and five assists. The Seahawks' defense is solid, led by goalie Erin

Graham, Zamarripa's older sister, Lorie, at stopper and Eryn Belt at sweeper.

"They like to kick-and-run," said River Hill coach Cynthia Odell, who won four state titles during the 1980s at Oakland Mills. "We just have to control the game and not play into their hands. We're don't want to get into a kick-and-run game. We want a more controlled game."

Caitlin Bair leads the River Hill with 13 goals and seven assists. Natalie Cox has 10 goals but hasn't scored in the playoffs.

"It's going to be tough," said South River coach Will Pharr. "I know they have a ton who play club ball and are a very talented bunch of girls. There's no one place to attack them."

Glenelg vs. Hereford

The Gladiators, playing in their first state tournament, had an easy draw and took advantage of it, outscoring four opponents 17-0 to reach the final. But Glenelg has a chance in this game because it has proven against tougher county teams that it is competitive.

Glenelg played in seven overtime games this season, five of them (1-2-2) against county opponents. The Gladiators have a solid defense, led by goalie Jamie Epperlein, and an offense that can create opportunities.

"Part of our key will be finishing on the opportunities we create," said Glenelg coach Mike Williams. "We know we're going to create opportunities. Finishing them has been the problem."

Glenelg has spread out its scoring. Sophomore Stephanie Howell has nine goals, Erin Kortecamp eight, Christa Vent seven, and Melissa Wilder six.

Junior Melissa Mueller is clearly Hereford's top scoring threat with a school-record 24 goals. She scored the game-winner in the Bulls' 2-1 victory Monday over Oakland Mills.

"Lori Tvarkunas will mark her for sure," Williams said. "It should be a good battle."

Epperlein and Mueller play together on the Columbia Magic club team.

"She's got great foot skills, knows how to place the ball and can one-touch it very well," said Epperlein. "She's just a great player. I look forward to stopping one of her shots."

The Bulls are not taking Glenelg's .500 record lightly.

"We're actually very nervous about the game," said Mueller. "We're expecting another Oakland Mills game, so we're going to have to work together as a team and be on our game."

"They come out of a great league [Howard County]," Hereford coach Steve Power said. "They play super quality teams, so they're going to be really good."

Williams said to win, his team will "have to win the 50-50 balls. We're also going to have to have better first touches than we've had all year, so we don't turn it right back over."

Pub Date: 11/14/97

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