River Hill's defense brushes up for playoffs

Second-ranked Hawks keep No. 5 John Carroll in check for 2-0 victory

High Schools

Girls soccer

October 21, 2003|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

River Hill's girls soccer team had already clinched the Howard County championship and the top seed for the Class 3A East regional playoffs, so just how important could it have been for the No. 2 Hawks to win a non-league game against No. 5 John Carroll yesterday?

"This is huge to prepare us for the state tournament coming up," said All-Metro striker Kara Lewis, who had an assist and a goal in the 2-0 win over the visiting Patriots.

"We always love good competition. It's always exciting, because we know their record so far and how well they've been playing. We knew it was going to be a big game."

The Hawks (11-1-1) made this game feel like a playoff game with their intensity. A superb effort from the entire defensive unit - Lindsay Hinkle, Shelley McDuff, Megan Branthover, Whitney Rhodes, Sam Goertler and goalies Katy Hudson and Erin Riegel - held off the Patriots (11-4-1) and limited opportunities for their All-Metro striker, Ashley Myers.

"Every time she touched the ball, we wanted to make sure we had a person there to delay that penetration every time she turned," said River Hill coach Willie Ibarra. "When she turns, she can take two, three players on, so the key was, if we had a player on her, we had added coverage, too."

In the 34th minute, Myers beat four defenders and fired a high shot right down the middle from about 20 yards out, but Hudson made a terrific save, batting the ball over the top. Hudson then snared the ensuing corner kick, a well-placed ball from Jamie Zimmerman before her Patriots teammates could play it.

Those saves by the junior keeper preserved the 1-0 lead Lewis and Katie Barbera had provided in the 24th minute. After Hinkle's fine throw-in, Lewis carried the ball down the right side and cut in, crossing the ball to Barbera, who finished it high right.

The Patriots had two chances to tie early in the second half when Myers sent a good volley ahead to Rachel Layer, who fired just wide, and then Krissy Zerhusen shot just off the high right corner.

Lewis netted the clincher in the 61st minute, taking a bouncing through ball from Jackie Stromberg, keeping it away from two defenders and depositing it in the far corner.

Patriots coach Gary Lynch agreed that defense made the difference.

"They outhustled us and they out-muscled us," said Lynch. "We had some scoring opportunities, but I don't think we were as dangerous as we need to be."

"Right now, we just need to stay focused on the rest of the season," said Myers, whose team plays Fallston tomorrow.

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