River Hill wins, 2-0, gets share of crown Hammond is co-champion after season's first loss

October 28, 1998|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Playing its finest game of the season, River Hill earned a share of the Howard County championship yesterday with a hard-fought, 2-0 victory over previously unbeaten Hammond.

The defending county champion Hawks (11-3, 8-1) and Golden Bears (12-1-1, 8-1) tied for the county title, a game ahead of Mount Hebron (10-4, 7-2). The Vikings could have made it a three-way tie, but were upset, 1-0, yesterday at Oakland Mills.

Mount Hebron handed River Hill its lone county loss, 4-2.

After a brief pre-game ceremony honoring Hammond's 11 seniors, visiting River Hill wasted no time establishing control.

"They were ready from minute one," said Hammond coach Peter Di Marco, whose team had won 12 straight.

Said Hammond forward Katie Fink: "They came out really hard, really intense. We've never seen a team come out like that."

River Hill aggressively challenged every ball, and its defense kept Hammond's passing attack off-balance. The Hawks were given three yellow cards -- two in the second half -- but never slowed down.

"They were really taking it to us [in the first half]," said Di Marco, who admitted his team was intimidated by River Hill's physical play. "We wanted it, but they wanted it a little bit more. The better team won."

Rashida Walcott's 10th goal of the season with 15 minutes left in the first half gave River Hill the only score it needed. Jennifer Pla crossed the ball from the left sideline, and Shannon Jackson tipped it to the speedy Walcott on the right side.

"I took it and ran as fast as I could," said Walcott, who went in one-on-one against Hammond goalie Lindsey Mitchell. "When the goalie stepped up, I took my shot."

Hammond, which also drew a first-half yellow card, created more scoring opportunities in the second half. But River Hill's defense, led by Natalie Klisas, Karla Killian, Mary Pattillo and goalie Jen Wright, did the job.

"We all worked together, we all marked up," said Klisas, the sweeper. "The defense was great."

Hammond almost tied the game 15 minutes into the second half on a short, hard shot by Jenny Jones. Wright got her hands on it and tipped it over the net.

"I saw it come off her foot," Wright said. "I didn't want to risk dropping it so I just tipped it over."

Jackson added River Hill's second goal, scoring from in close as a bunch of players from both teams tried to control the ball inside the box.

Said first-year River Hill coach Joan Kelso Smedley: "This was the best game we've had this season. I think we've finally started to come together as a team on the field."

And Smedley was happy that her players could repeat their county championship. "There was a lot of pressure on this team not only from ourselves, but from the soccer community, and they stepped up and met the challenge."

Pub Date: 10/28/98

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