South River Field Hockey Wins MPSSAA 4A State Championship
It's been an exciting couple of days for South River's field hockey team.
On Saturday, the Seahawks topped Churchill 6-0 to claim the MPSSAA 4A state championship. South River, which was also co-champions for Anne Arundel County with Severna Park, finishes the year 18-1-1, and with the program's fifth state title.
The entire Edgewater area has embraced its new state champs. Tons of local businesses have been putting signs in their windows congratulating the Seahawks, something head coach Megan Atkinson says is a good representation of the tremendous support the team has received all season.
"The past few days have been really fun. After the game it was amazing to see all of our fans, the families, students and South River staff celebrating for us and with us. The entire season we have had the support of our community, and it really does make a huge difference," Atkinson said. "Our bus ride home was a party and the girls all came together for one final sleepover at a teammates' house on Saturday night."
The days of celebration are a just reward for a hard-working group that slugged its way through one of the toughest schedules in the state.
South River won every game it played in Anne Arundel County play during the regular season, topping the likes of Severna Park, Broadneck and Chesapeake, which won the 3A state title this past weekend. The Seahawks also beat the 3A runners ups, Westminster, as well as the IAAM A Conference regular season champion, Archbishop Spalding.
Atkinson gives a large amount of credit for the Seahawks' success to the team's ability to adapt.
"This group of girls was able to take instruction and apply it right away, which in a tight game is significant. Sometimes it was those little adjustments that would help give us the advantage," Atkinson said. "Also, another great quality of this team was their patience. They understood when they could be conservative and when they needed to be more aggressive."
It also doesn't hurt to be a well-rounded team with talent at every position.
Senior forward captain Sarah King, who netted a hat trick in the final against Churchill, was the heart and soul of the team. On the field, her 15 goals and four assists were crucial, but her role as motivator away from the field was just as critical to the team's success.
Joining King in attack was fellow senior Maia Cheeks. Her 17 goals were a team high, and represented a major change in fortune after she missed the majority of last season with a plethora of injuries. The team's crop of forwards was rounded out by sophomore Darcy Clement, who did an excellent job of receiving long passes and generating fouls throughout the season for the Seahawks. South River's set up attacker, Clement scored four times and chipped in seven assists.
The team's go to player in the midfield is senior captain Jill Ulery. An individual Atkinson referred to as the team's most underrated player, Ulery made an impact on both offense and defense. She had the ability to stop opponents' attacks, as well as start South River's offense in transition.
The Seahawks' defense was led by its third and final senior captain, Kassidy Bresnahan. A tremendous athlete, Bresnahan's competitiveness and desire would routinely raise the level of play of her teammates around her. Sophomore McKenzie Jamison was the defense's other standout, regularly stopping the opposing attack before it could reach South River's defensive circle.
The group is rounded out by senior Paige Ford, who registered 138 saves and only allowed 19 goals all season. She had an 87.9% save percentage, and finished the season with nine shutouts.
"Honestly this team was so well-rounded, it seemed like in every game someone different stood out," Atkinson said.
With the team having the performance it did in the state championship, the Seahawks had a rare opportunity to look around and savor the moment of winning a state title.
For Atkinson, it was surreal to watch her players enjoying themselves on the field together for South River for the very last time. That revelation didn't stop her from enjoying the moment though.
"It was also a huge relief to know that everything we had done, all the practices, talks, runs, team bonding, workouts and so on had paid off," Atkinson said. "Jill Ulery said it best when she came to me after the game and said 'We did it.'"
|November 15th, 2016||By: Wick Eisenberg|