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Baltimore County Sports

North County field hockey blanks Catonsville, 1-0, for the second straight year in regional semifinals

It was déjà vu for the North County field hockey team when it defeated Catonsville in the Class 4A North Region I semifinals, 1-0, for the second year in a row.

Both winning goals were scored late in the first half and the Knights finished each game with only three shots on goal.

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Last year, the Knights played at Catonsville and this time they were on home turf when Claire Birge scored the game’s only goal with 1:49 left in the half.

North County's Claire Birge, center, celebrates with teammates Katelyn von Berg, left, and Kiana Silva after Birge scored the only goal in the Knights' regional semifinal win over Catonsville on Monday.

“In practice we’ve been taking it down the sideline and taking it baseline and having someone open across the goal, so Roxy [Stephenson] passed the ball across to me and I was able to bounce it in while it was up high,” Birge said. “I’ve been practicing working on deflections and tipping the ball in and she put in a perfect position for me to tap it in.”

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She was in the right place at the right time.

“That’s where we teach them to be,” North County coach Dave Mueller said as his team improved to 8-5.

North County's Kaydence Augustin, right, goes after the ball near Catonsville's Jade Pannuty, left, in the second half as North County defeated the Comets, 1-0, in the Class 4A North Region I semifinals.

Catonsville’s closest first-half chance came midway through the second quarter, but Katie Tolton’s shot, which went in, was nullified because she was outside the circle. Alison Capka and Jade Pannuty had shots in the circle that were blocked by North County defenders.

“This year our defense has gotten a lot better, we have really good team chemistry,” Birge said.

It was the second year in a row Mueller was on the sidelines, but this year he was the head coach, after being promoted from assistant to interim coach last season.

“It was the same kind of game,” he said. “This was a grit game.”

The Comets (3-9) finished with only five shots on goal and their best chances in the second half came when Kaleigh Lehner fired a shot on goal that was saved by Zoe Harlow and Capka had a shot saved by a charging Harlow.

“We just didn’t have many shots today,” Catonsville coach Emma Walsh said. “It was beautiful what was going on in the midfield, but we just couldn’t finish, but they played well.

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Late in the game, North County had a golden chance for an insurance goal, but Maggie Blanford’s hard drive was repelled by Catonsville keeper Allison Kitchell.

The defense of Blanford, Kaydence Augustin, Shyann Giunta, Karrah Lathe and Macy White held the Comets without a shot for the final eight minutes.

For the second year in a row, the Knights will play at Dulaney for the region title. The top-seeded Lions blanked Perry Hall, 8-0, in the other semifinal.

Last year, the Knights dropped a 6-0 decision on the Lions’ grass field.

“I just wish we were playing on a turf field,” Mueller said.

Birge was a little more optimistic.

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“This year we’ve had a little more practice on grass and we have better control,” she said.


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