The last two times Catonsville and Perry Hall met on the girls soccer pitch, the Comets provided the late heroics.
When the teams collided in the Class 4A Section I finals on Thursday night, the game figured to go down to the wire, but a pair of seniors made sure that didn't happen.
Catonsville senior Ali Dingle (1 goal, 1 assist) broke a 1-1 tie when she headed in Lenna Meyer's corner kick with 14:32 left in the second half and senior Jenn Nonn added a goal with 3:26 left and the Comets prevailed, 3-1, at Catonsville High School.
Catonsville shoots for its second straight regional championship when the Comets play at Howard on Nov. 4.
"I just saw the ball and I just saw the opportunity and I just jumped up and put my head on it and it was a shock because I didn't know it went in at first," said Dingle, who assisted the Comets first goal when she took a free kick two yards outside the box and watched Renee Gast finish for a 1-0 lead with 28:19 left in the first half.
"They were putting a lot of pressure on us," said Catonsville's Nonn, who often was engulfed by four or five defenders every time she touched the ball.
The one time she got free for the goal, Catonsville coach Gary Lynch was hoping she would take the ball away from the goal, but her heart and determination got in the way.
"It was all guts," Lynch said of Nonn's add-on goal. "With that much time (under four minutes), normally what we would try to do is take it to the corner and delay the game. She did what we asked her to do and she saw an opportunity and took advantage of it and they paid for it."
Nonn beat three defenders with some nifty ball handling and drilled a a left-footed shot from 20 yards out.
"I was going to the corner, but then I saw the opportunity so I just went for it," Nonn said.
She had no idea the Gators were playing with a keeper who had never played in goal before.
A head injury to starter Maggie Lent in the previous game's win over Dulaney prevented her from playing and reserve Jasmine Ferrara was unavailable, so midfielder Sam Bauer played keeper.
"No matter what keeper is in, we are going to shoot on them and test them," Nonn said.
"Samantha Bauer started and stepped up and played amazing," Smoot said. "This is a game that could have gone either way. For the adversity we faced, I give the girls all the credit and I think this is the best Perry Hall team I've coached."
But, in the end, it wasn't the hard challenges, hustle and aggression that made the difference.