River Hill’s girls soccer dynasty captures another 2A state title with a 3-0 win over No. 5 Hereford

by Gary Adornato

With a senior class that finished with three state titles in four years and a program that has won five of the last six 2A MPSSAA girls soccer state championships and 12 overall, there was little that could shake the confidence of No. 3 River Hill, Wednesday night, as the Hawks battled No. 5 Hereford for the 2017 2A crown.

That confidence only grew when River Hill pounded home an early goal and the Hawks went on to cruise to a 3-0 victory over the Bulls at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex. After losing their first two games of the season to private school powers Good Counsel and McDonogh, the Hawks (17-2) finished the season on a 17 game winning streak, including 13 shutouts.

It took less than six minutes for River Hill to jump on top when the team’s leading scorer junior Brigette Wang created space in the box, after taking a feed from junior Juliana Grasso, and drove home a hard shot for her 20th goal of the season.

With 16:12 to play in the opening half, senior Megan Chun, with an assist from senior Victoria Tran, blasted a rising right to left shot into upper 90 and a 2-0 lead for the Hawks. Chun received a cross field pass from Tran, dribbled around one defender and unloaded a right-footed blast from just inside the box.

“It is such a relief and so great,” said Tran of getting on top early. “It is also really great maintaining that lead. I think the previous championships we have won, that’s what happened, we scored early and tried to maintain the rest of the game.”

River Hill would strike once more in the first half, with 4:22 remaining. Hereford goalkeeper Emily Arnold came out to challenge Grasso, near the 18, but was late getting there. Grasso, who was assisted by Danielle Poindexter, was able to chip the ball over Arnold and it bounded into the net for a 3-0 lead.

First half chances were minimal for Hereford, but in the 11th minute, freshman standout Payton Patrick made a bid for the equalizer as she got behind the Hawk defense, on the left side, but pushed her shot wide right.

Patrick, who picked up much of slack left behind when Hereford lost senior All-State forward Danielle Maggio to an ACL tear in the preseason, by scoring 22 goals and delivering 15 assists, was the focal point of River Hill’s talented and very experienced back line.

“She is very talented,” said River Hill senior Carly Wetzel of Patrick. “Hats off to her for staying in the game when she was clearly hurt. We identified early that she was going to be one of the players to keep an eye on and defend hard. I’m really proud of all my back line for living up to the task there.”

Hereford coach Brad Duvall talked about the difficult task of defending River Hill’s trio of talented forwards – Wang, Chun and Tran – who combined for 38 goals and 27 assists prior to Wednesday night.

“When there is three of them it’s pretty hard,” said DuVall. “You can’t double team any of them, so our game plan was to try and possess the ball and we did a very good job, in the second half. Problem was, in the first half, we didn’t quite execute some of the things we talked about pre-game.”

Still, Duvall was full of pride for his young team, especially with the way it overcame its early season adversity to post a 15-3-1 record.

“The season did not start the way we had hoped, losing one of our best players to a serious injury,” said Duvall of Maggio’s loss. “It took a little bit for our girls to figure out how to work around that. We hit the ground running when we got back from a long 12 day layoff between games. We got a lot of work done and we reeled off 11 straight wins to finish off the season and get to this point.”

River Hill coach Brian Song said the team virtually coached itself.

“My job was very easy. I had great talent, great support,” said Song. “The parents have been just unbelievable, helping out with anything possible.

“Having such wonderful girls, student-athletes who are students first. Our GPA is weighted over 4.5. It’s incredible. So, it’s not just that we do it on the soccer field, we do it in the classroom.”

(at Loyola University Maryland)
RH  3  0  —  3
HER  0  0  –  0
GOALS: RH-Brigette Wang, Megan Chun, Juliano Grasso.
ASSISTS: RH-Victoria Tran, Juliana Grasso, Danielle Poindexter.
SAVES: RH-Alexa Thompson 2; HER-Emily Arnold 7.