The visiting Dulaney girls soccer squad put an early scare into top-seeded Catonsville two days before Halloween, but it was the Comets who were treated to a pair of second-half goals in a 2-1 comeback victory in the Class 4A North Region quarterfinals.
Dulaney held a 1-0 lead at intermission, after a goal off a free kick by Emma Patron to Kaitlyn Dabkowski, who deposited it with 25:57 left in the first half.
The Comets were held scoreless in the first half thanks to strong Dulaney defense from sweeper Annie Sachs, stopper Calli Coles and wingbacks Mackenzie Gandy and Melanie Gandy.
“It was definitely a scare, but we knew what we had to do to come back and we weren’t going to let that change our mind or motivation,” said Catonsville junior midfielder Ali Dingle. “It was just time to pick it up and keep it up and it was time to score.”
The Comets (14-1) rallied with a pair of second-half goals and secured their 13th straight win.
The first came after a ball sent in by Anna Higdon that was partially cleared outside the box, but met by a charging Renee Gast, who volleyed a high ball beyond Dulaney keeper Francesca Brancati to tie the game with 35:17 left in the second half.
Ten minutes later, the Comets almost took the lead, but a breakaway shot by Jenn Nonn, and rebound point-blank attempt from Gast, were stopped by the diving keeper.
“She had two beautiful saves right in a row,” said Dulaney coach Steve Power, who is retiring from the head position after 33 seasons, beginning in 1980 with Hereford High.
Power’s young team may have been eliminated, but the coach enjoyed watching the duel in the midfield between Lion junior midfielder Patron and Comet junior midfielder Dingle.
“The key to their game was Allison Dingle in the middle,” Power said. “This game I think was the two best midfielders in our county. Emma, in my view, is an all-state player and tremendously creative and I think Coach Fitzpatrick would agree that Dingle is the center that they always go through with the beautiful passes, so they both are a reflection of each other.”
Dingle’s hard work in the midfield led to the game-winning goal by reserve Andrea McTaggart, that was set up by a perfect through pass by Nonn with 9:24 left in the game.
It was the sixth assist of the season for Nonn, who has 19 goals this season and 66 in her three-year career.
“Everybody knows you’ve got to find her (Nonn) and she is not the one that beats you and they didn’t mark her out, but they certainly had a scheme that was a little more defensively oriented,” Fitzpatick said.
“Nonn is incredible and Gast is the one that hurt us last time,” said Power, whose squad lost in the first meeting, 4-1, on Oct. 4. “We worked really hard on restarts because Gast hurt us l with two goals on two corners. “I think we only gave two corners the entire game so that took away that option.”
Fitzpatrick was well aware of that and its something he hopes his squad improves when they host Perry Hall, Friday, Nov. 1 at 5:30 p.m.
“That is just an indicator at how many times you are forcing the attacking third and they were ready,” Fitzpatrick said. “Coach Power had them ready to play and we just came out flat and stayed flat for 40 minutes.”
But, they had another 40 minutes to turn it around and they did.
“One of the positives that comes out of it (falling behind) is that we stayed in it,” Fitzpatrick said.
Dulaney's Patron sent several balls into the box late in the game, but sweeper Lauren Vogelpohl cleared away four in the final 90 seconds to preserve the victory.