When Severna Park High senior Madeline Ross found sophomore Marissa Balleza at the top of circle for a goal to give the Falcons a 2-1 lead with under 20 minutes left in the second half of Wednesday’s 4A East Region field hockey championship game with South River, it felt like as though they held a larger margin.
That’s because senior goalie Cait Coletti was the Rock of Gilbraltar for the No. 2 Falcons, who ended the No. 3 Seahawks’ season, 2-1, securing yet another trip to the state Final Four.
“It’s just amazing beating South River, holding that plaque in your hands is just amazing,” said Colletti, “everything we have worked towards goes into that.”
“They [Severna Park] have done everything they we asked them to do,” said Severna Park coach Lil Shelton. “I think we keep of knew that they were going to rise above and they did. I’m so happy that they have gotten past this threshold and are moving on.”
For the record 28th time, Severna Park (16-1-1 overall) is off to the state Final Four. The Falcons will meet unbeaten and No. 4 Westminster in a semifinal Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Franklin.
Despite being outshot, 15-10, Severna Park once again found a way to deny South River (15-2). The Falcons defeated the Seahawks in last year’s region finals and completed a season sweep of their Edgewater rivals Wednesday.
“All of them [South River] played well tonight, we just couldn’t that last one in the goal,” said South River coach Katie Corcoran. “We played a very tough game on Monday and I think that we were feeling it today. We played really hard for 60 minutes and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Two of Coletti’s 13 saves came in at the 14-minute mark of the second half, denying two penalty shot attempts by the Seahawks over a two-minute span.
“I watch the ball, I don’t watch the girl,” said Coletti. “I just go out there and clear my head and block everything out because if they [South River] score, then you have no idea of how the outcome of the game will be. One shot can be the difference; one shot can make or break the game.”
“Cait [Coletti] was unbelievable,” said Ross. “There was so pressure on her to come up big on those penalty strokes was just amazing.”
Severna Park gained the early lead when senior Kendyl Gardner snared in a pass from a corner and found the back of the cage, 13 minutes, 28 seconds into the first half.
South River revved up its offense and pelted Coletti as she was able to protect the Severna Park lead. The Seahawks broke through as South River’s Jennie Milligan squeezed one past Coletti to draw the game even at halftime.
The Falcons got game-winner with Ross and Balleza hooking up in the second half. The rest belonged to Colletti as Severna Park stands two victories away from a record 20th state title.
“Every year there is just so much pressure just to get there [state finals],” said Ross, “and it just makes us want it more and more.”