It was on the sideline turf at Richard Montgomery High where Catonsville junior Jenn Nonn sketched out a scoring play for classmate Renee Gast before the start of the second half of a scoreless tie in the Class 3A girls soccer state semifnals against Eleanor Roosevelt.
Less than four minutes later, Gast deposited Nonn’s dropback pass for the first of a five-goal second-half onslaught that propelled the Comets to a 5-0 victory Saturday and a berth in the state championship game.
They will play the winner of Walt Whitman and South River on Nov. 14, 15 or 16 at UMBC in the Comets' first state title appearance.
“What I told her to do is what she did and she scored off of it,” Nonn said. “She was calling for it and I knew that she would be there and I just gave her the ball and she scored.”
Coach James Fitzpatrick wasn’t surprised to see the chemistry between the two juniors who have a combined 36 goals and 21 assists.
Anna Higdon assisted Ali Dingle’s header off a corner kick for a 2-0 led and Nonn fed Dingle on a similar play to the earlier one to Gast.
“I keep saying if you run corner, every one be at slot so we can drop the ball back and it’s an easy shot and Ali was right there,” Nonn said.
Higdon scored the fourth goal when she curled her own corner kick into the net, but she was more excited by her assist to Dingle.
“It was a huge adrenaline rush and a huge relief, because I knew we couldn’t get complacent and we just had to keep going and keep our motivation,” Higdon said.
Speedy freshman Kayla Wood scored the final goal when she zipped past a pair of defenders down the sideline and scored an unassisted goal.
The Comets have now outscored its past two opponents, 9-0, after winning the regional title over Sherwood.
Against Sherwood, they scored twice in each half, but against Roosevelt, they capitalized on a tactical change.
“We changed formations so we tried to do things a little bit differently and we put a few more people down in the center of the field and you can always look back and say maybe we would do it differently, but it opened up the wing for them,” Roosevelt coach Bob Sowers said. “They did a good job and they took advantage of it.”
Fitzpatrick was just hoping his team would just settle down and play its game like they have frequently during the 16-game winning streak.
“The whole emphasis was being smart, being relaxed, playing smart, staying focused,” he said. “That’s really what it boiled down to for us in the second half. I think that’s why our second half was much better than the first half, especially in terms of results.”
The Comets, whose defense was anchored by sweeper Lauren Vogelpohl, stopper Katie Viets and wingbacks Carly Toulan and Higdon, also had more stamina.
All of that fitness goes to (assistant coach) Chris Hastings,” Fitzpatrick said. “i’m a soccer coach. Chris is a great trainer, but he also designs our fitness. “He has a plan and we stick to his plan and that’s what has gotten us where we are.”
Higdon certainly agrees.
“We run a lot more,” she said. “ We’ve run more this year than my entire four years.”
But, it’s all worth it.
"I'm so excited," she said.
Putting the extra work in was not a problem for Nonn, who has 67 career goals, and knew the Comets were a special group before the season.
“We knew from the beginning that we were a good team and we knew we were going to go far,” Nonn said. “We could all just feel it at the beginning of the season and it’s showing and we are going all the way. I hope we finish it with a win.”