A young Hammond Golden Bears squad was going up against a River Hill Hawks team that is one of the county's best and was a state finalist last season.
It was no surprise, then, that the Hawks won comfortably, 14-3. The margin allowed River Hill to put 30 different players into the game, with nine of them scoring.
Max Williams racked up six assists for the Hawks, and Chris Leon scored three goals. But it was Matt Gray who had a career day, getting a personal-best four goals.
Hammond was just never able to get a foothold in the game.
Leon got the first goal of the game, putting River Hill on the scoreboard just a little more than three minutes in.
By halftime, the Hawks were up 9-0. River Hill scored four times in the first quarter, including two by Chris Leon, and Matt Gray had two of his four goals in the second quarter.
Hammond, meanwhile, was left scoreless until the fourth quarter, when there were a little less than nine minutes left in the game. Garret Linthicum broke through with his first of his two goals. After David Erskine scored River Hill's 14th goal, Lithicum scored again, and then Michael Waters scored in the final minutes of the game.
The Hawks did "a good job of maybe taking away what they wanted to do," said River Hill head coach Keith Gonsouland. "We did get a little physical with them and had some big hits, which was good."
Gonsouland said he was very pleased with how well his team did with its transition offense. The manner in which River Hill was able to move the ball around allowed them to open up their offense and, in turn, made it hard for Hammond to defend them.
The Hawks added five more goals in the second half, including four in the third quarter. Gray had his final two goals of the game in that quarter.
Gray credited the “off-ball movement with all the other attackmen” for allowing him to score his four goals.
River Hill dominated the flow of the game. Hammond was only able to get 13 shots on goal. Whenever Hammond got the ball, they struggled to hang onto it – both because of what River Hill did defensively and due to their own inexperience.
The Hawks “did some things to kind of make them uncomfortable [and] pressure them and make them play faster than they wanted to play,” Gonsouland said.
By carrying a big lead late into the game, River Hill had a good opportunity to rest its players and keep anyone from getting injured going into Wednesday's matchup with Fallston. But most important to Gonsouland was the chance to reward some of his players that sit on the end of a long bench.
“There’s guys on this team that have been working hard and deserve to get into the game,” Gonsouland said.
River Hill (14)
Matt Morton (1), Max Williams (1), David Erskine (1), Matt Kaiser (1), Kirby Smith (1) , Chris Leon (3), Jon Matsunaga (1), Josh Post (1), Matt Gray (4)
Michael Waters (1), Garrett Linthicum (2)