The waiting for Lexi Zeruto and her Huntingtown field hockey teammates finally reached its end on Saturday morning, as the Hurricanes welcomed the Thomas Stone Cougars in the season opener for both squads.
A team that enters the season with big goals, Huntingtown took control early and was able to secure its first win of the season by a 9-0 count in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference crossover matchup.
“I’m so excited and I know everyone else is so excited to start our season,” said Zeruto, after contributing two goals and two assists to the victory. “We’re finally starting our games. It was just a good first game to our season.”
Huntingtown (1-0 overall) got things rolling early on Emma Pike’s first tally. A long shot by Ariana Smith found the goal shortly thereafter and the Hurricanes were in business. With later goals by Taya Sirman another by Pike, the hosts took a 4-0 lead into the half.
Following the break, the Hurricanes eventually were able to pick things up with another goal by Sirman. Zeruto followed with a pair to extend the lead to 7-0, while Smith added her second of the game before Aggie Gullace slipped one into the cage to cap the scoring with Huntingtown’s ninth goal.
Smith was pleased with her team’s performance, though she noted there was still plenty to improve upon as the team progresses to move closer to the meat of its schedule down the road.
“It was a good first win for the season, many more to come,” she said after her two-goal, one-assist performance. “We played pretty well. We had our passing stuff and we learned some things that we shouldn’t do in other games. There are definitely things we need to work on, but we’re excited.”
While the final margin was lopsided, it could have been worse if not for a huge effort by Stone in its defensive end. Goalie Alexa Lawson made over 20 saves and with her defense helped keep the Cougars competitive despite virtually the entire game being played in Stone’s defensive end.
Stone (0-1), which was scheduled to play at Chopticon on Tuesday, is slated to host Northern at 4 p.m. Thursday and then will travel to Calvert next Tuesday, also at 4 p.m. Having graduated some of the more experienced players from last year’s team, Saturday morning’s contest marked the first step in what the Cougars hope will be a season of progress.
“Even though it was a tough game for us, I am happy to say that we never gave up,” Cougars head coach Rebecca Elbert said. “My goalie Alexa Lawson had a lot of great saves, and because of that the score stayed lower. My defense also stayed strong throughout the game. Taylor Colbert and Sindy Ruiz also had a couple of defensive saves and were big leaders throughout the game.
“This is definitely a building year for us since we lost vital senior players last year and hopefully as the season progresses we can get stronger and more confident as a team.”
Huntingtown will continue with a swing through a stretch of crossover games on the schedule, with a visit from La Plata on tap for 4 p.m. today. Tomorrow the Hurricanes are scheduled to travel to St. Charles for a 4:30 p.m. contest, while a trip to McDonough awaits next Tuesday for a 5 p.m. contest. Kenley Zeruto was excited to see the team continue to move forward after the opening win.
“It was a good confidence booster,” she said. “It gives us things to work on. There are things we need to do better for when we get to bigger games.”