Through three quarters, the South River boys’ lacrosse team was tied with Severna Park, 4-4, but had out-shot the Falcons, 23-11.
The dam finally broke in the fourth quarter, as the Seahawks scored five unanswered goals to take a 9-4 decision over Severna Park in Edgewater on April 23.
Fourth-quarter goals came courtesy of Gunnar Schimoler (two), Thomas Trunnell, Billy O’Hara and Andy Thomas. South River scored on five of its nine shots in the final frame, as opposed to just four of 23 in the first three quarters.
“I think our offense was struggling there for a while; we couldn’t put the ball in the net,” South River head coach Paul Noone said. “Things started to turn around a little bit and we just kept telling them, ‘Just keep shooting, keep shooting. Sooner or later, somewhere down the line out of 48 minutes, hopefully something will fall.’”
The Seahawks (12-2 overall, 10-1 in county through May 3) subsequently quieted any notions upstart Chesapeake had of a possible upset when they dismantled the visiting Cougars, 10-3, on May 1, getting three goals from Brandon Senft, two from Schimloer and one each by Dylan Mansur, Grant Maloof, Mike Ward, Joseph Pettey and Cole Fanzo. South River wrapped up the season with a 18-5 win over Old Mill to maintain momentum heading into the regional playoffs.
Against Severna Park, the Seahawks were fueled in the fourth quarter by continuing their season-long trend of delivering outstanding defensive effort. South River created turnovers and pounced on loose balls, turning them into instant offense on the other end. The Seahawks picked up nine ground balls in the final frame, which was an improvement over the second and third quarters, when they picked up nine total.
“I think we finally started to get transition,” said Schimoler, who’s headed to UMBC in the fall and will play for the Retrievers’ lacrosse team. “Our defense was making stops and we were able to get transition, and everyone was getting the ball. I think four different people scored [in the fourth quarter], so it was good to get everyone going.”
O’Hara, a long pole defenseman, embodied that transition in the fourth quarter. He scored South River’s eighth goal of the game by taking the ball from end to end and finishing off the play with a wicked shot into the back of Severna Park’s net. The late goal effectively put the game out of reach for the visiting Falcons. Fellow defenseman Craig Chick scored in the third quarter.
But the Seahawks’ defense stood out the most in the way they prevented goals, as Severna Park scored just once in the second half and was limited to 16 shots total despite having controlled the same amount of draws (eight) as South River. The Seahawks’ defensive effort was backed by goaltender Charlie Palandati, who made eight saves.
“Credit our defense,” Noone said. “They pushed the issue down on the defensive end of the field. Carried the ball a couple times, ended up with a couple goals on the defensive end…We’ve been leaning on them all year. They’re as good as it gets. Hopefully they can continue to play and it can kind of rub off on the offensive end of the field.”
Trunnell finished the game with three goals, all of which were assisted by Senft. His final goal of the game opened the Seahawks’ onslaught in the final quarter. Trunnell, a sophomore, was called up to the varsity squad less than a week before the Seahawks’ matchup against the Falcons.
“Throughout the game, we were keeping our feet moving,” Trunnell said. “We were just getting a lot of shots; we just couldn’t put them in. I think the difference was in the fourth quarter, we just started to finish the balls. Transition got the team going.”