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Catonsville girls soccer make tough defensive stand in loss to Sparrows Point

Late goals help Sparrows Point hold off Catonsville

Although the regional soccer tournament doesn't begin until Oct. 27, the Catonsville girls soccer team looked like they were in playoff form Tuesday night when they gave four-time defending Class 1A state champion Sparrows Point all they could handle in the Comets' regular-season finale.

The visiting Pointers (10-1) broke open a tight game with two goals in the final seven minutes of regulation and held on for a 4-1 victory over the Comets (5-9).

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The win was the ninth straight for the Pointers (10-1).

It looked like the Pointers were going to take off in the first half when Emalee Travagline scored after executing a perfect give-and-go with Alayna Jerome and scoring with 27 minutes left in the first half.

Less than two minutes later, Catonsville senior goalie Vivian Montgomery-Walsh (3 saves) injured her hip and was replaced by junior Hailey Murray (11 saves).

Murray had two clutch saves early in her shift, but with 17:41 left in the half, a corner kick from Julie Lynch tipped off Murray's hands and was tapped in by Jerome.

It was the only ball Murray didn't secure all night.

"They had a good goalie," Sparrows Point coach Lori Sexton said. "I give their goalie tons of props because she was fantastic. You don't find goalies that are that good."

The rest of the Comets fed off her defense and held the Pointers scoreless for over 50 minutes.

Catonsville junior wingback Savannah Beaver had several takeaways and seniors Anna Wachsmuth, Leah Marshall and Emily Delaney were stellar in the back.

“They absolutely stood on their heads,” Catonsville assistant coach Emily Boller said. “They kept us in this game.”

Boller filled in for head coach Ricky Sanchez, who was out due to a health issue in his family.

Shortly after Beaver and midfielder Lily Mellendick forced turnovers, the Comets got a free kick deep in the Sparrows Point zone.

Senior tri-captain Aubrie Zepp drilled the shot from 12 yards out on the right side and scored to make it 2-1 with just over seven minutes left in the half.

“I usually do take the free kicks, especially if they are on the right side because I’m left-footed, so it’s really easy to just get it in the net from the right side,” said Zepp, who knew it was in the goal as soon as she kicked it.

After the goal, Catonsville striker Kolby Weedon drew a foul in the Pointers zone and an obstruction call led to another free kick from Zepp on the left side.

That one was cleared by the Pointers, but the Comets picked up the offensive pressure and gained confidence.

“Towards the end of the first half, they really started stringing their passes together instead of just kicking it like crazy,” said Boller, noting the Comets stepped up their physicality. “I told them from the jump they knew Sparrows Point was a tough team, so as soon as they started to match that level in a respected way, they started to really be on the same level as them.”

Less than a minute into the second half, Zepp had a shot on goal that was saved by goalie Jaddah Foos.

Sparrows Point responded by peppering the Comets goal at the other end, but shots by Lynch and Pinter sailed wide and another by Pinter to the near post was saved by Murray.

“She [Murray] really played out of her mind and really stepped up and had a bunch of huge, huge saves,” Boller said.

Murray's confidence in the goal forced the Pointers into taking shots sooner than they wanted.

"We made some poor choices in terms of shooting outside the 18," Sexton said.

When Murray wasn’t making saves, she was aggressive on balls in the box.

On one corner kick by Lynch, Murray batted the ball away one-handed so Abbi Boehl could clear it away.

After a shot by Dezirae Pomory clanked off the crossbar, Murray was there using her feet on a reflex save.

Freshman Hazel Montgomery-Walsh helped out on defense after Delaney left with concussion-like symptoms and she did a standout job defensively, along with Lilly Scott.

“I think we really stepped to the ball and we were really good at marking up,” Zepp said.

Murray made her best save with 16:39 left when Pinter raced behind the defense on a fast break and drilled a low shot from 10 yards out that Murray saved again with her feet.

With just over nine minutes left, Murray's rejection resulted in three straight shots inside the box that were blocked by Comets.

The one nobody could touch came off Pinter's foot with 6:59 left, giving the Pointers a 3-1 lead.

Jerome scored the final goal with 1:58 left.

The loss didn’t diminish the way the Comets felt about the way they played heading into the playoffs.

“We weren’t really good for a majority of the season, but we finally have something together and I’m really excited,” Zepp said.

Boller was equally pleased with the team’s effort.

“We say every game is a chapter and this game ended their regular season book,” Boller said. “We closed that book and we open the next book for the playoffs. I said ‘How do you want to end your book and how do you want to dust off the playoff book.’ ”

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