Catonsville's Deb Milani was the best player on the field, but Mount Hebron was the best team.
Milani scored a game-high five goals, but a balanced Mount Hebron offense, a dominant performance on draw controls by senior midfielder Sam Brookhart, and a clutch second-half effort by senior goalkeeper Madison Fisher proved to be the difference in the sixth-ranked Vikings' 13-8 victory over visiting Catonsville.
Sophomore midfielder Jen Giles scored a team-high four goals for Mount Hebron (6-1), which has lost only to top-ranked McDonogh. Seniors Jamie Schwartz (three goals, three assists) and Brookhart (three goals, two assists) were important cogs in the Vikings' victory.
Milani's second goal with 21 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the first half gave Catonsville a 2-1 edge. But the Vikings followed with three unanswered goals to take the lead for good. After senior attack Haley Sutton's first goal tied the game, Giles put the Vikings ahead when she weaved through two defenders and put a high shot past Catonsville senior goalkeeper Grace Campbell. Brookhart's first of three goals just 39 seconds later put Mount Hebron ahead 4-2.
The Vikings held an 8-4 halftime advantage, but Catonsville (6-1) cut the lead quickly. Goals by senior midfielder Claudia Flister and junior attack Brooke Stevens in the first 1:23 of the second half narrowed the margin to 8-6, but Fisher rebounded to save five consecutive Catonsville shots and extinguish the Comets' rally.
"As a goalie, you have to keep telling yourself that you're going to get the next save," Fisher said. "You just can't let anything bother you, and that's what I did today."
While Fisher was stopping the Comets, Mount Hebron was busy at the offensive end. Giles, Brookhart, and Sutton scored unanswered goals that boosted the Vikings' lead to 11-6 with less than 12 minutes remaining. After Milani scored her fourth of five goals, Brookhart and sophomore attack Ally Unkenholz tallied to put the game out of reach.
Brookhart's draw-control production was a major factor in the win. The Towson University-bound senior enabled the Vikings, who won 15 of 23 draws, to control the game.
"I was really pleased with our draw controls today," said Mount Hebron coach Trish Derwart. "Sam did an excellent job of maintaining possession. And we appreciate that Maddie comes up with the saves that we don't expect, and that's what we need to pull off wins against a higher level of competition."
Although the Comets saw their six-game unbeaten streak end, assistant coach Ellen Cook saw bright spots in her team's effort. .
"We came out of halftime and scored two quick goals, and we had so much momentum at that point," said Cook, who was guiding the Comets while head coach Becky Clipp was attending a wedding in South Carolina. "But we have to make that effort throughout the game."
Goals: C – Milani 5, McDonald, Flister, Stevens; MH – Giles 4, Schwartz 3, Brookhart 3, Sutton 2, Unkenholz Assists: C – Stevens; MH – Kelehan 3, Schwartz 3, Brookhart, Sutton Saves: C – Campbell 9; MH – Fisher 9
Halftime: MH, 8-4