Diana Carey didn’t have any doubt. She wanted Emileigh Scott on the opening draw of overtime Monday.
The Lions’ second-year coach had switched up the circle throughout the back-and-forth contest against visiting Class 4A foe Bel Air (6-2), but when it came down to a crucial possession in the golden-goal extra time, she knew she needed her senior captain.
“She is competitive,” Carey said. “And the girls I had on the circle were the right girls.”
Scott stepped up to the line and won the ball in the air to gain possession for her team. Howard settled in offensively, and gave the ball to fellow senior captain Jenny Kinsey, who then found Scott cutting through the 8-meter. Scott corralled the pass and buried her shot into the bottom left corner of the netting to give the Lions the 16-15, overtime victory.
“I thought I saw the opening, so I cut and Jenny was unselfish and I just finished,” Scott said. “When the ball went through the back of the net ... I was just happy that I followed through for my team and I made that goal.”
Howard needed its senior captains, Scott, Kinsey and goalie Sam Sagi, in Monday’s tough game against the Bobcats, who nearly walked away with a come-from-behind win.
The Lions led by five goals with just more than 13 minutes left in regulation, but Bel Air never wavered and coolly chipped away at the deficit.
“There is never any panic with our group,” Bobcats coach Kristen Barry said. “We believe in each other and we know all we have to do is just to go back to the basics. It’s one goal at a time and you just keep fighting for every loose ball. One save, one goal at a time and they’ve learned that with time in a game goals can be scored in seconds. There is no need to panic, no need to get out of your game plan, just stay the course.”
Howard won the draw-control battle through the first 15 minutes of the second half, but Bel Air adjusted and picked up some key ground balls off the circle from junior Elizabeth Hillman, who Barry said had a “gutsy” performance after suffering a severe ankle injury a few games earlier. Her hustle on the circle led to quick scores for the Bobcats, as they scored three goals in three minutes. They finally tied the game at 14 with 3:49 remaining after Lauren Asher assisted Anna Farley on the score.
“[Hillman] battled for us, but our whole team did,” Barry said. “Anna Farley was a leader, captain. Julia Henry stepped up and played a little midfield for us today —everyone really. Everyone is ready to sacrifice and step up and do what is needed to be done for the team.”
Scott won the ensuing draw to get her team back down on the offensive end. The Lions were patient and stayed spread, forcing Bel Air to come out and pressure. After shedding some time off the clock, freshman Jenna Peed took an opportunity, dodged a defender and scored her third goal of the game to put the Lions back up, 15-14, with 2:23 left.
Scott again won possession off the draw and Howard was ready to run time down, but an unforced overthrow out of bounds gave the Bobcats the ball back, and the turnover quickly led to a goal by Anna McQuay to tie the score at 15 with a minute to play.
Howard and Bel Air traded possessions in the middle of the field on the following draw. Ultimately, Hillman won the ground ball for the Bobcats to give her team one last opportunity to win it in regulation. But the Lions defense stayed tough and allowed the clock to wind down. Hillman, with the final seconds ticking away, put a shot on net, but Sagi came up with a huge stop to preserve the 15-all tie and force overtime, which then resulted in Scott coming up with the vital draw and game-winning goal.
“We had a chance on the last play before overtime, but didn’t work out and it came back to that first draw, and they did a great job,” Barry said. “Howard is a phenomenal team, and we just have a lot of respect for them.”
The game had five lead changes, with the score tied on eight occasions.
Scott gave her team the initial 1-0 lead after winning the game’s opening draw, but Bel Air countered with a 3-0 run to take a two-goal advantage, which was its largest cushion of the day.
Howard led 7-5 with about five minutes remaining in the half, but the Bobcats showed their resilience and scored two straight to end the half tied at seven.
“We blew a pretty big lead there, but they are a very, very good team, so fast — wow,” Carey said. “[And] again, we have experience problems and so, we are a work in progress and they really did nicely. I am really pleased with the seniors. Em Scott, Jenny and Sam, they really led the team.”
With Bel Air winning the last four draws of the half, Carey decided to make the change from Scott to Peed in the circle at the start of the second period.
“She’s done for us some, but with Em being almost 6 feet tall we rely on her a lot, but she wasn’t winning it. So we just felt like we really had to switch it up and Jenna came up big, and our girls around the circle came up big,” Carey said. “I thought, ‘Let’s give her a shot and see how we do.’ So I was very grateful she did really well, and you know, as I said, we let them back in, but they are really good team. They are really well coached, very fast. It could have gone either way that is for sure.”
The Lions benefited with a 4-0 run within the first 10 minutes to take an 11-8 lead, but again, the Bobcats showed poise and rallied once more.
Asher ended the surge with about 17 minutes left on an unassisted goal, but Howard responded with three consecutive scores from Kinsey, Kelly Schluederberg and Peed to take its largest lead of the game at 14-9 with 13:22 left.
Bel Air then went on a 5-0 run to get back into it, but ultimately couldn’t score the go-ahead goal.
“We knew it was going to be back and forth, but the important thing is how do we come back from it? How do we respond? Are we going to hang our heads or are we going to do 10 times better next game?” Barry said. “They are a good group. They are already thinking ahead. They are going to use this as motivation for the next game.”
It was a balanced offensive night for the Bobcats, who had nine goal scorers in the game, but Henry (3 goals, 2 assists) and Asher (3 goals, 1 assist) led the way, while Molly Loughlin finished with 10 saves.
“We just wanted to keep our heads up,” Barry said. “I mean that was just a phenomenal team we just played. We knew it was going to be a battle back and forth and I think most of all, the thing that we want to learn from this game is the positives. We got down by four or five goals at one point and we had the perseverance to come back to win a couple critical draws and get right back in it.”
Kinsey led the Lions offensively with four goals and two assists, while Jamie Tsao (2 goals, 3 assists) and Peed (3 goals, 2 assists) followed. Sagi finished her stellar day in net with 14 saves.
“We know Bel Air is a great team,” Scott added. “I think they’re ranked, and this kind of proves that when we come together and play as a team we can beat good teams, which Bel Air is. We just look forward to beating other good teams.”
The Lions (2-1 Howard County, 6-2 overall) are back in action Wednesday for a 3:30 p.m. game at Severna Park.
Howard 16, Bel Air 15 OT
Ho (2-1 county, 6-2 overall)
Goals: Ho — Kinsey 4, Scott 3, Schluederberg 3, Peed 3, Tsao 2, Vetter 1; BA — Henry 3, Asher 3, Hall 2, Farley 2, Strobel 1, McHugh 1, McQuay 1, Fallace 1, Hillman 1.
Assists: Ho — Tsao 3, Peed 2, Kinsey 2; BA — Henry 2, Hillman 2, Hall 2, Fallace 1, McQuay 1, Asher 1, Strobel 1.
Saves: Ho — Sagi 14; BA — Loughlin 10.
Around the league:
Glenelg 19, Liberty 1
The Gladiators cruised to their eighth-straight win Monday, as a 13-0 halftime cushion propelled the eventual, 19-1, win over the Lions.
Glenelg had nine different goal scorers in the game with Maddy O’Brien and Alayna Pagnotta leading the way with four goals apiece. Georgia Esmond followed with three goals and an assist, while Lindsay Letellier recorded a game-high five assists to go along with one score.
Maddie McSally made two saves in net, while intercepting three passes in the game. Kylie Haynie also stepped in the cage for the Gladiators and made one stop.
Glenelg is back in action Wednesday, as it travels into Anne Arundel County to take on Broadneck at 5:30 p.m.
G (3-0 county, 8-0 overall)
Goals: G — O’Brien 4, Pagnotta 4, Esmond 3, Giampalmo 1, Renehan 1, Callahan 1, L. Letellier 1, Duncan 1, Scheinberg 1; L — Anusiewaki 1.
Assists: G — L. Letellier 5, Renehan 3, Esmond 1, Malette 1, Scheinberg 1; L — Ellis 1.
Saves: G — McSally 2, Haynie 1; L — Schraeder 3.
Halftime: 13-0, Glenelg.