After scoring four goals and notching three assists last week, what could Mount de Sales sophomore Grace Gower do for an encore this week?
On Sept. 19, she scored the game-tying goal with five minutes left in the game against Bryn Mawr and the game winner in double overtime of a 2-1 victory.
Three days later, on a balmy first day of fall, Gower scored both goals again in a 2-0 win over visiting Catonsville in girls soccer action.
“Grace Gower is having a phenomenal season,” Mount de Sales coach Dave Manser said. “She is on a tear.”
Her goals helped the Sailors (4-1) stretch their winning streak to four games after a season-opening loss to Severn.
Catonsville dropped to 2-5.
Mount de Sales threatened early and Gower nearly had a goal in the first four minutes, but her shot clanked off the top corner of the crossbar.
With 23:37 left in the first half, Gower connected for a goal after she deposited a shot following a corner kick by senior Rachel Leisher.
“It bounced off Sarah [Gibbons] and I just struck it,” Gower said.
Catonsville responded to the deficit by controlling the midfield, but they had trouble getting the ball deep into the Sailors box.
The only shots they had in the first half came from Aubrie Zepp, Emily Delaney, Amber Weedon and Anna Wachsmuth, but Wachsmuth’s was the only one on goal, but that was corralled by de Sales keeper Lauren Pallozzi.
“We created the opportunities,” Catonsville coach Ricky Sanchez said. “It’s just that final step that’s missing, either the connecting pass or just getting it on goal.”
Sanchez pleaded with his team at halftime to shoot more often in the second half, but it was the Sailors who got a majority of the opportunities thanks to ziplock defense from sophomores Paige Rivers, Moira Connelly and Claire Nilan.
“Our defense played great today,” Manser said.
Zepp had a shot deflected by a defender and another one from 40-yards out that took a tricky short hop before the ball was gathered by Pallozzi.
Catonsville stayed within one, thanks to the speed on defense of sweeper Kolby Weedon and strong foot of Leah Marshall.
Weedon, who started the season at forward, has played sweeper the past three games.
“I told her at the beginning of the season we may have the opportunity to play you at sweeper because you are the fastest player on the field,” Sanchez said. “I told her, ‘I’ll put you forward, trust me, I’ll pay you back.’ ”
Catonsville’s best scoring opportunity against de Sales came with 24:50 left in the second half on a shot by Amber Weedon from inside 10 yards that leaked wide.
Mount de Sales responded with two solid strikes by Leisher that were saved by Catonsville goalie Hailey Murray.
“I was trying so hard to score,” Leisher said.
Murray played goalie in the second half after Vivian Montgomery-Walsh played in goal in the first half.
Montgomery-Walsh contributed in the midfield in the second half.
“We are so fortunate to have two outstanding goalies and I appreciate all their effort, to be able to go one half and another half,” Sanchez said.
Mount de Sales junior Alex Sullivan had some spirited runs in the second half that created opportunities and Leisher and Gower kept peppering the goal.
Gower finally connected with 4:01 left in the game when she rebounded her own shot that was rejected by Murray and deposited it in the onion bag.
“I deflected it off her and I started running to the left and I just struck it,” Gower said.
Catonsville’s Casey Buckley had one shot on goal for the Comets in the final minutes, but it was saved by Pallozzi.
Mount de Sales, tied for third with a 3-1 mark in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference, resumes league play at home on Tuesday, Sept. 26, when they host Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
“We’ve got a good group of seniors and we’ve got a good core of sophomores and a couple freshmen so we are just going to keep getting better,” Manser said.
Catonsville hosts Perry Hall on Monday, Sept. 26.
The Comets are 1-2 against Baltimore County foes, with the only loss being a 1-0 defeat to Towson in a game suspended early in the second half because of thunderstorms.
The Comets defeated Pikesville, 8-0, earlier this week and won their first county game on Sept. 12 over Dulaney, 1-0, when Lily Scott scored off Wachsmuth’s assist with under a minute left in regulation.
“That was a huge benchmark,” said Sanchez, who hopes the losses to tough non-county foes will make his squad tougher as the season unfolds. “”These games are tough games and they get you ready for the county games,” Sanchez said. “We’ve just got to keep our nose to the grindstone and keep working.”