Catonsville (13-1) won its 12th straight game and its second Baltimore County girls soccer championship in five years, and the Coments proved they could do it by overcoming adversity.
Junior midfielder Lauren McDonald started for the fifth time in the last six games at goalie, and the Comets lost starting sweeper Lauren Vogelpohl midway through the first half. But they held on to defeat Sparrows Point, 2-1, at Franklin High on Wednesday night.
Catonsville sophomore Lenna Meyer wasted no time getting the Comets on the scoreboard when she finished a pirouette in the right corner with a goal into the opposite corner for a 1-0 lead, just 37 seconds into the contest.
“Only Lenna knows if she was shooting or crossing, but it doesn’t matter because it went in,” Catonsville coach James Fitzpatrick said.
Early in the second half, junior Jenn Nonn made it 2-0, on a penalty kick, for her 65th career goal and 19th of the season.
Sparrows Point’s Alyssa Rasmussen cut the lead in half four minutes later following a pass from Carli Zellers, but the Comets held on down the stretch for the first county title since 2009.
The Pointers (10-3) had two quality chances to net the equalizer in the final 11 minutes, but a shot by Jamie Shiflett leaked wide and another by Lauren Spivey hit the far post and caromed back to keeper McDonald.
“I just kind of turned and the ball just happened to be there. It was a lucky one,” said McDonald, a midfielder, who has filled in for starting keeper Natalie Croom after she suffered a concussion against Parkville on Oct. 3. “I turned and thought it went in.”
She wasn’t the only defender who shined in an understudy role for the Comets.
Sophomore Lila Nazarian relieved Vogelpohl, who injured her leg with 18:32 left in the first half, and did a fine job holding the lead with wingbacks Anna Higdon and Carly Toulan and stopper Katie Viets.
“We start 11 quality players and we have a quality bench and that is a rarity in a high school program,” Fitzpatrick said. “Not a lot of teams have the depth we have and we have a lot of people who can play a lot of different places. That came through tonight when you lose a quality player like Lauren Vogelpohl and we have people who can do the job and Lila proved it.”
Nazarian has played midfield and defense most of the season, but was very controlled in the back against the pesky Pointers.
“It’s not something she has worked a lot at,” Fitzpatrick said. “Lila is just a good player, she’s a good smart player that knows what to do when she gets the chance.”
Goalie McDonald agreed.
“It’s definitely so hard without her (Vogelpohl) because she is the rock of our defense and she means so much to us, but we all just have to step up and still play our game and Lila stepped in and did a great job,” she said.
Fitzpatrick moved striker Renee Gast to stopper for the final 7:30 and the Pointers never got another scoring chance, but they certainly made an impression on the Comet coach.
“I thought Sparrows Point was the best side we saw all year,” Fitzpatrick said. “They gave us fits both times we played them. They don’t give up.”
The Comet attack and midfielders Ali Dingle, Deanna Eveland and Kelsey Scott gave the Pointers fits in the first 15 minutes of the game and set up scoring chances for Nonn and Gast.
The Pointers stepped up the intensity midway through the half and had a shot by Brooke Peterson that was corralled by McDonald.
A corner by Higdon led to a shot on goal by Nonn that was rejected on the end line by defender Barb Foster with nine minutes remaining.
With 5:55 left in the half, Sparrows Point had its best chance, but Shiflett’s shot was saved by McDonald.
The Comets, who defeated the Pointers 3-2 during the regular season, set the tone early in the second half and Nonn was rewarded for her hard work in the box with the penalty kick that gave the Comets a two-goal advantage.