Dulaney (9-4) won its second Baltimore County field hockey championship since 2006 on Thursday night at Lansdowne High, and both times coach Kelly Fialcowitz was on the sideline.
Senior Sarah Schaeffler scored two first-half goals and the Lions' defense pitched a 2-0 shutout over Catonsville (11-2), ending the Comets’ eight-game winning streak.
Dulaney had lost the previous four county championship games to Hereford.
Fialcowitz was an assistant coach when the Lions defeated Hereford for the 2006 county crown, but she came back as head coach this season and proved she meant business during preseason practices.
“This was for the 6:45 conditioning practices,” said Dulaney junior goalie Kalie Paranzino, who finished with three saves.
“We knew they would be worth it,” said Schaeffler, of the early-rising workouts.
Schaeffler said extra work on crashing the net during practice also paid off against the Comets, who beat the Lions 4-2 earlier in the season.
She scored her first goal on a penalty stroke flick to the top left shelf after a wild scramble in front of Comet goalie Vanessa Tracy.
“The ball went into pads and our whole offense just rushed it because this whole week we’ve just been working on rushing the pads and getting the shot in and finishing and we were all just rushing the pads, so the goalie sat on it so we got a stroke.”
Two and a half minutes later, Schaeffler struck again after a corner pass from Casey Proefrock.
“I was just focusing on just stopping it and getting it off quick because I know if I looked up I would run out of time,” she said.
“We’ve just been working on getting the ball in the cage,” said Fialcowitz, whose squad outscored its foes 23-13 in its first 12 games. “That’s something we’ve been struggling all year, so we’ve been focusing on finishing.”
Catonsville, which had outscored opponents, 55-16, in its previous 12 games, never dented the cage.
“They double-teamed our really good players and they came to the ball really fast,” Catonsville coach Carrie McKenna-Wilson said.
Those key players included senior Brooke Stevens and junior Emma Clark.
Stevens, who leads the Comets with 19 goals and eight assists, and has 33 goals and 14 assists over the past two seasons, had three scoring chances in the first half.
The first came after a pass from Clark and it was repelled by Paranzino, who also blocked her rebound attempt with 15:42 left in the first half.
The third chance hit the side of the cage with 12:51 left.
Catonsville senior defender Kelly Reymann also had a hard shot on goal after a penalty corner pass from Stevens, but it was stopped by Paranzino.
“Kalie played an amazing game in the cage,” Fialcowitz said. “She had some great saves and that makes a big, big difference.”
“We said at the beginning of the game this is going to be a shutout,” Paranzino said. “We said, ‘we are a brick wall.’”
The defense of Emma O’Grady, Lauren Batlas and Katie Boltz was flawless in the second half, when they held the Comets without a shot on goal, and the midfield and attack kept constant sticks on Comet restarts.
Sophomore Christine Lopez, who left the game in the first half after getting hit in the mouth, put constant pressure on Comet strikes.
“They are very dangerous in the circle,” Fialcowitz said. “We know they are well capable of scoring so the defense was huge.”
The two squads could meet again in the Class 4A North Region playoffs, but Fialcowitz wasn’t quite ready to think about that.
“I’d like to just enjoy this one for five minutes,” she said.
Catonsville's McKenna-Wilson was already thinking about a rubber match.
“We will be ready when we see them again.” she said.
Dulaney: Schaeffler 2
Dulaney: Proefrock 1
Catonsville: Tracy 7
Dulaney: Paranzino 3