Catonsville senior Deb Milani (4 goals, 1 assist) and sophomore Jenn Nonn (1 goal, 3 assists) had four points each and senior Claudia Flister added three goals to lead the unbeaten Comets (6-0) to a 13-12 victory over visiting Hereford (3-3) on Wednesday evening.
Hereford played the last 18:55 of the game with leading scorer Noelle Funk (2 goals, 2 assists) on the sidelines after the squad received a fourth yellow card, but they hung in until the final two minutes, thanks to the great work of goalie MC Abbott, who had seven of her 11 saves in the second half.
“She played incredible,” Catonsville coach Becky Clipp said. “And, they played with a lot of heart. They were a man down and they were still in the game.”
“The defense really helped me. I knew we were tired and they did their job and when they do their job, I knew it was my turn to do my job and I stepped up and I was seeing the ball really well today;" Abbott said.
Hereford’s Rachel Karwacki gave the Bulls a 10-9 lead with 16:37 left in the game, but Rachel Saks tied it with 14:49 left and Nonn assisted Andrea McTaggart (2 goals) for an 11-10 Comet lead.
Karwacki was strong on draws in the first half and that helped the Bulls erase an early 3-0 deficit, but late in the first half, Flister and Nonn came to the rescue For Catonsvilel in the midfield with extra effort.
“I definitely think draw control was a big key,” said Catonsville senior defender Maddie Hunt “Claudia started the last two minutes of the first half, getting those draws, and Jenn came up huge in the second half and I thought it picked everybody else up and that was probably the key change in the game.”
“Nonn and Claudia Flister just literally took over and their tempo was great," Clipp said. " It was like they weren’t settling and that kind of tempo is game-changing.”
Despite their hard work, Caroline May (2 goals, 2 assists) scored for Hereford to tie it at 11-11 with 10:23 left, but Brooke Stevens converted a Lauren McDonald feed with 9:43 left.
The Comets never trailed again, thanks to strong defensive efforts from Chloe Corbitt, Maddie Schwaab and Hunt and goalie Grace Campbell (7 saves), but Hereford didn’t go down quietly.
With 25 seconds left, May threw a long pass from the sideline to fleeting Parissa Sakinejad, who converted the feed with 25 seconds left, making it 13-12.
“I was hoping she was there,” May said. “Parissa usually gets down the field really fast so I knew she was coming and I’m usually the feeder so I looked right in the middle for her so I hit her and we got right back in the game.”
But, Flister corralled Nonn’s draw and the Comets ran out the clock.
“We were definitely a little rusty because we haven’t played to that high of competition yet, but we handled it as well as we could and played our hardest and that definitely pushed us through,” Hunt said.
Sarah Ashwood, Lacey Aghazarian and Sakinejad each had two goals for the Bulls.
“Except for the score, I’m real happy with the game,” Hereford coach Anne Ensor said. “It was a great game.”
The Comets beat their first five opponents by an average of 15 goals, but things will get even tougher Thursday when they face Mount Hebron.
Hereford lost 13-4 to Hebron in a tournament on April 6 before bouncing back and beating Manchester Valley, 17-9, in the consolation game.