A chilling late summer wind, sideways rain and grassy pitch didn't stop the offenses from going full steam ahead Thursday night at Perry Hall High, where the host Gators defeated Catonsville, 5-2.
The game featured a Gator squad that had 10 of its 12 seniors healthy, while the Comets started three seniors, one junior, two sophomores and five freshman.
"I thought we hung tough," Catonsville coach James Fitzpatrick said. "I don't think the result was indicative of how close a game it was and how long it was that close."
Catonsville led 1-0 early on a goal by freshman Jennifer Nonn, but senior Lauren Van Daniker assisted senior striker Sarah Spivey for the equalizer and sophomore Kara Taylor pushed the Gators ahead, 2-1.
Nonn tied the game on a penalty kick for her sixth goal of the season. She now has all the goals for the 1-3 Comets, who defeated Loch Raven, 3-0 earlier in the week when Nonn had a hat trick and freshman Lauren McDonald had two assists and junior Deb Milani had one.
Against Catonsville, it was Perry Hall senior midfielder Alexa Quaranta who was in a giving mood as she led the match with two assists.
Her first assist late in the first half to Jamie Sokolis gave the Gators a lead they would never relinquish.
Quaranta, whose twin sister Preslie (team-high 20 goals last season) is out for the season after having knee surgery in May for a torn anterior cruciate, knew it was time to get the offense focused.
"We were pretty confident coming out thinking this was like a win, but they came out strong and once they scored the first goal it kind of hit us that we needed to pick up our game," Alexa Quaranta said.
Perry Hall really stepped it up in the second half when they scored twice.
Sophomore Melanie Garrison scored unassisted and Quaranta assisted Paige Tolson on a corner kick for the final tally.
"She was coming through at full speed so I played it straight to her," said Quaranta, noting they have worked on that play.
Perry Hall coach Rick Testerman said Tolson called her shot.
"That header off a corner kick was an awesome goal," Testerman said. "That's what I've been trying to encourage them, to have that mentality on corner kicks that you are going to get to the ball and have a touch on goal."
Catonsville's McDonald added a highlight late in the game when she filled in for freshman goalie Natalie Croom after Croom was given a yellow card after a collision.
McDonald, a field player, saved a penalty kick to prevent further damage.
It was a brief moment of exhilaration for the versatile freshman Fitzpatick says "can play all 11 positions."
Fitzpatrick also has confidence in the leadership and skills of tri-captains Rachel Woods, Olivia Nicolaus and Danielle Southwell, while the younger players continue to develop.
Testerman will ride his seniors, that also doesn't include 5-foot-9 senior back Jordan Cassell, who broke her leg in s scrimmage, but the coach won't hesitate to insert his sophomores.
"We have a very deep bench this year," Testerman said. "It's young, but they are quality players."
Perry Hall, who defeated Dulaney, 2-0, earlier in the week improved to 2-0 on their quest to defend its Baltimore County championship.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun