Park Girls Take Down Broadneck, 1-0

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The Severna Park girls soccer program has been on an upward arc the past couple years, but to truly enter the conversation as a contender, they needed a win over one of the state’s elite.

Cue Ella Raines and the Falcons: How do you like us now?

Raines’ second-half goal and an outstanding defensive effort powered the Falcons to a 1-0 win over Broadneck on Thursday at Severna Park High School, ending a streak of ties and narrow defeats to their nearby rivals. It is the first win for the Falcons over the Bruins since 2014—the Bruins have won two state championships (2015, 2017) in that span—and Severna Park’s senior class hadn’t defeated Broadneck in their varsity careers.

Until Thursday.

“It’s always a rivalry game, and both groups really bring an intensity to this particular game,” said third-year head coach Brian Morgan. “This one just brings out a different element that a lot of games don’t, physicality and intensity, and I think it’s awesome that we can have this in a high school setting.”

Physicality, intensity and a high level of skill and teamwork on both sides were evident right from the start of Thursday’s contest. Broadneck came out strong, pressing up the field for chances, but in what became a continuing theme, Severna Park’s defense held strong. The core back line of seniors Emily Knight and Kiersten Crowley and juniors Chase Campbell and Lena McLaughlin made it to every key spot to disrupt Broadneck’s mounting threats.

Severna Park goalkeeper Katie Bird made four first-half saves as Broadneck’s Lela Clark and MaKenna Dean engineered chances for their side.

Tied 0-0 at half, Severna Park switched jerseys at halftime, retiring their pink cancer awareness specials in favor of the navy uniforms they’d worn in previous home wins over Meade and Southern.

The jerseys weren’t all that changed, as Severna Park began to tilt the momentum in their favor, building up attacks through the middle of the field and combining long passes with timed runs.

On 48 minutes, junior midfielder/forward Bella Espinoza lofted a pass ahead to a charging Raines, who had only Broadneck goalie Samantha Hoffman to beat.

“Bella played it into me, and then I had a one-on-one with the goalie, I tapped it around her and put it in the corner,” said Raines. “It’s crazy. I was so excited.”

Espinoza said Raines’ goal was borne of trust.

“I knew that she’d be running across the field, and I heard her calling, and I believed that she would be there. I knew I could trust her if I played it there,” said Espinoza. “It worked out.”

The Falcons went into a frenzied celebration but still had 32 minutes of shutout soccer to deliver, and Broadneck made them sweat it out. A golden chance fell to Dean in the box, but her shot was clipped at contact and dribbled harmlessly to Bird. Moments later, the Falcons were called for a hand ball in the box, but freshman Eva Mowery’s penalty shot clanged the left post and ricocheted back into play before getting kicked out of bounds. Broadneck settled for a corner, which was headed away powerfully by McLaughlin.

Crowley, Knight, McLaughlin, Campbell, Olivia Altman and the Falcons clamped down defensively to snuff out Broadneck’s chances and preserve the shutout win.

“It’s really great, we’ve worked all season and all year to beat them,” said Crowley. “We know they have a strong offense and fast girls, but we were able to play together and play our game and get it done.”

Morgan praised the defense for the job they did against Broadneck’s always-dangerous offense.

“I can’t say enough about Lena and Kiersten, and the back line,” said Morgan. “That core group of center backs really drive the group, and of course Katie in the back cleans anything up. Kiersten and Lena do a great job of getting everyone in that defensive mindset.”

Knight said the win is a big hurdle cleared for Severna Park, which lost last year’s region final to Broadneck as the Bruins went on a run to the state championship.

“Every year this is one of our goals,” she said. “We’ve been working really hard, and they’ve always been huge competition for us. We’re just happy we got it done this time. …We trust each other. It’s part of the bigger goal.”

Severna Park (9-1), now with a key win over Broadneck (4-3-2), is in the driver’s seat for a spot in the county championship game on October 23. With matches still to play against Chesapeake, Northeast, North County and Old Mill, the Falcons can secure their spot in the county championship on October 23 if they keep winning. Barring any unforeseen losses for the Seahawks (8-0-2), a rematch with South River in the county championship is in play. Home-field advantage in the region playoffs could also change with a South River loss and continued Severna Park victories.

The Seahawks defeated the Falcons 3-1 on September 17.

Raines believes the win over Broadneck is a bellwether of continued ascent.

“It boosts our confidence, because if we can beat [Broadneck], we can totally beat South River,” said Raines. “They’re also really good competition, so if we put the effort in we did now, then we can win.”

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