Severna Park scooped more ground balls, forced more turnovers and dominated time of possession on its way to eliminating Catonsville, 15-10 in the Class 4A-3A state semifinals at Franklin High Friday night.
The victory earned the Falcons (17-2) a shot at its fifth state title in the past six years on May 22 or 23.
Senior Ally Adams was key to the victory as she and her teammates around the draw circle neutralized the Comets (17-2), who have dominated draw control during an 11-game winning streak that was snapped with the loss.
"We just knew we had to get the girls on the circle to get possession because we knew No. 4 (Deb Milani) was really strong on the draws," Adams said.
Milani and company won three of the first four draws and junior goalie Grace Campbell had a pair of saves as Catonsville built a 4-2 lead in the first nine minutes.
Catonsville goals by Milani, Jenn Nonn, Brooke Stevens and Rachel Schwaab and an assist from Lauren McDonald helped them gain the advantage.
Morgan Torggler (4 goals) made it 4-3 with 13:35 remaining, before Severna Park senior goalie Camille King made a tough save with 12:02 left on a shot by Claudia Flister.
King was injured on the salvo and the Falcons inserted sophomore reserve Rachel Vander Kolk.
Vander Kolk, whose twin sister and Falcon teammate, Tracy, passed away on May 10, came into the game for King and provided inspiration to her teammates.
Torggler scored to knot the score at 4-4 with 8:50 left in the half and Lizzy Lloyd followed Milani's tally, tying the game at 5-5.
Catonsville's Schwaab won the ensuing draw, but Vander Kolk stopped Nonn's free position shot and Torggler gave the Falcons a lead they would never relinquish.
Courtney Wells added a pair of goals and Adams had one score and one assist when the Falcons closed the half with four goals in the final 4:39.
"It was just us looking into ourselves and saying we really want this and giving everything we had because we had nothing to lose at that point," Adams said.
The Comets trailed 11-6 in the second half before they made their most spirited rally with three consecutive tallies.
Stevens scored the first off a free position goal and the Comets took advantage of a yellow card by Torggler with goals by Stevens, off a McDonald assist, and Milani, making it 11-8.
They nearly cut the deficit to two, but McDonald's goal was disallowed because shooting space stopped play before the shot and Chloe Corbitt's free position shot was saved by Vander Kolk.
Ryan Bathras assisted Kirk on a fast break at the other end before Flister made it 12-9 with 9:18 remaining.
But Torggler dug out the next draw and Adams converted Lloyd's feed and the Comets never got any closer.
"We really focused on those hustle plays like getting ground balls, draw control and forcing turnovers," Adams said. "That is what we really focused on and it's the little things like that, that wins the game."
Catonsville coach Becky Clipp agreed.
"They were just getting the ground balls and that's just hustle and focus," Clipp said. "They are a very well-disciplined team and we have not played a team that does that all year long."
In the Comets' 18-6 triumph over Perry Hall in the regional finals, Milani, Schwaab and McDonald had five goals each, but they were held to just five goals total against a Severna Park defense led by senior Jenny Skrenta.
"They controlled the tempo of the game and that was the biggest difference," Clipp said. "I give them all the credit in the world. They played a great game."
Senior starters Schwaab, who will play at Temple next season, Heather Kendrick and Olivia Nicolaus and seniors Jessie Vanhooser, Lauren Carroll and Grace Hochheimer are the only ones that will move on.
The Comets return a strong nucleus in junior defender Maddie Hunt, sophomore defender Anna Higdon, junior goalie Campbell, junior midfielders Milani, Flister and Corbitt and sophomore Stevens.
Junior attackers Rachel Saks and Kendall Law and freshmen scoring threats Nonn and McDonald also return.
"We had a great season and they are a great group of girls to coach," Clipp said. "I'll miss the seniors, but I'm already ready for next year."
Goals: Milani 4, Stevens 3, Nonn 1, Schwaab 1, Flister 1.
Assists: McDonald 2.
Goals: Torggler 4, Wells 3, Adams 3, Kirk 2, Bathras 1, Lloyd 1, Sarah Childress 1.
Assists: Adams 1, Bathras 1, Lloyd 1.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun