The Severna Park Premier White 09G Hurricanes and Severna Park Storm clashed in the Labor Cup championship in Crownsville on September 6, with the Hurricanes sealing a 2-1 victory in a penalty kick shoot after the game ended at 0-0 in regulation.
Smothering defense was key for the Hurricanes, who reached the final with shutout wins over the Bayshore Thorns (1-0), Pasadena Fury (4-0), and MoCo United (4-0).
“Defensively we were outstanding, not allowing a goal in any of our games,” said John Zaniker, head coach of the Hurricanes. “We relied heavily on a core group led by goalkeepers Jaiden Zaniker and Alexa Gibb; both also played defense along with Reese Fockler and Ellie Pietris. We also relied heavily on our center midfielders Audrey Smith and Audrey Singer to keep the other teams contained. Liv Gilligan and Lianna Gargano played both defense and attacking midfielders for us, which was key to our ability to maintain the defensive effort for four games.
“Offensively, the girls moved the ball amazingly well in tough conditions of wet, long grass fields,” he added. “It was a real struggle to get quality shots near the opponents’ goal in these conditions, so the girls relied on their abilities to move balls quickly to get opportunities in open spaces. Our offense was led by Noelle Beres, who got us started with our first goal along with Maya Shehata, Addie Newhard and Layla Perry, who all contributed to our team scoring.”
The Storm defeated MoCo United (1-0) and the Bayshore Thorns (2-1), and they withstood a loss to Pasadena Fury (2-1), on their way to the championship.
“We got there with strong defense and great teamwork,” said Storm head coach Chris Rom, who had help from assistant coaches Katie Pietris and Matt Souder. “Our goalies, Zoey Sharp and Andrea Rom, allowed just three goals in four games and got a lot of help from our solid group of defenders that featured Kiera McCubbin, Elsa Watkins and Zoe Souder.
“Our strikers Jordan Dill, Charlotte Hale, Madelyn “MJ” Jenkins and Juliette Wellschlager did well to keep the pressure on opposing teams in all four games and combined for some high-quality goals to secure two wins against tough competition,” Chris Rom said. “Our midfield group of Sydney Wise, Leah Croghan, Emma Shehata and Isabella Cojocaru, along with Rom and Sharp, worked non-stop and it was great to see them gelling as a unit with so much time since our last outdoor game at the end of the fall 2019 season.”
The Severna Park teams were glad to square off in the championship.
“Earning a spot in the finals against the Hurricanes was the perfect cap to the tournament,” Chris Rom said. “The girls and coaches have so much respect for one another, and any chance we get to play against them, it brings out the best in our players.”
After six months without game competition, the Hurricanes Coach were thrilled to be back on the field, coach Zaniker said.
“Playing our sister team, the Storm, in the finals was fantastic,” he said. “Our teams and our coaches are all very close. It was a big day for our organization to see our teams respond after such a long time away from game play. The action was intense with the play going end-to-end the entire game. I am not sure how the girls were able to do it, running full speed for the entire game. Everyone on both teams gave their all. It was the perfect end to the restart of soccer for us in this new COVID-19 world we live in.”