Physical South River again grabs share of title N. Zamarripa's goal saves tie with River Hill

Class 2A-3A girls soccer

November 16, 1997|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

For the past two years at Dundalk Community College, the South River Seahawks have battled and found a way to survive.

Yesterday afternoon, against a talented River Hill team from Howard County, the No. 8 Seahawks got a goal from junior Nichoal Zamarripa with a little more than five minutes left in regulation to gain a 1-1 overtime tie and another share of the Class 2A-3A state crown.

It's the second straight year the Seahawks (14-2-1) have been named co-champions. Last season, they played Liberty to a 0-0 double-overtime draw in the final.

It was No. 10 River Hill (15-2-1) that dominated most of the game -- owning a 19-3 advantage in shots and a 7-0 edge in corner kicks.

And when senior midfielder Kathy Gaertner slipped a shot from 15 yards out past South River senior goalie Erin Graham with 15 minutes left in regulation, it appeared South River's reign as state champs may come to an end.

But Zamarripa had an answer 10 minutes later with a little help. She made a nice run down the right side getting around the corner, but lost control trying to dribble in front. Looking to regain possession, she collided with River Hill senior midfielder Caitlin Bair who was trying to clear. The ball deflected off the two players and into the goal.

"It was a solo effort. She beat three or four players and then I don't know how the ball made it to the goal," said South River coach Will Pharr. "I thought she touched it too far, but the next thing I know it trickled in the back of the net."

The game featured River Hill's finesse against South River's physical approach and the two didn't mix.

The game got particularly ugly in the second half and, when it was over, eight yellow cards were issued -- six to South River and two to River Hill. South River seniors Lorie Zamarripa and Shannon Simmons were both removed from the game after receiving their second yellow cards.

Many who watched the game questioned South River's physical ways, which Pharr responded: "I think people that know the game know that physical play is physical play. It's not dirty. It's not cheap. I don't condone it. I don't encourage it. Do I tell you to tackle hard? Yes. Do I tell you to challenge for 50-50 balls? Yes. But I've never or would ever think 'Go out there and whack that girl.' No. People can form their own opinions and they're going to say what they want to anyway, but "

Said Nichoal Zamarripa, who finished the season with 15 goals and 12 assists to lead the Seahawks: "That's just the way we play. We're physical and have speed and other teams just can't take how physical we are."

Again, Graham was the standout for the Seahawks, matching the 12 saves she came up with in last year's effort against Liberty.

After turning back four shots in the first half, her toughest test came in the second half when River Hill was awarded a penalty kick after Bair was taken down by a South River defender in the penalty area. Graham stood her ground on the free kick taken by Gaertner, who would later make up for the missed opportunity with the game's first goal.

"That's huge to save a penalty kick in a game of this magnitude," Pharr said.

Pharr left impressed with River Hill's skills, but Hawks coach Cynthia Odell would have liked the opportunity to have them on display a little more.

"It was an extremely physical game. That's what we were concerned about coming in and that proved to be the case," she said. "It takes you out of your game when you're knocked to the ground. My girls had to do their best to control the game. [South River] was very aggressive and many times didn't play the ball, but played the body. That might have been because they weren't as skilled as we were. I'm proud of my girls."

Pub Date: 11/16/97

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