Catonsville seniors Hayden Kesner and Caitlyn Baeck pose together after the Comets defeated Franklin, 6-2, and the pair combined for five goals and four assists.
Catonsville seniors Hayden Kesner and Caitlyn Baeck pose together after the Comets defeated Franklin, 6-2, and the pair combined for five goals and four assists. (Craig Clary / BSMG)

The Catonsville field hockey team proved that practice makes perfect and sometimes meaningful words from the head coach can provide a lift.

The Comets put their extra work on crossing passes and finishing them to exceptional use and played like a team, like coach Barbara Bates told them to do, and it led them to a 6-2 triumph over Franklin on Tuesday evening.

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Catonsville senior Hayden Kesner scored four goals in the second half and classmate Caitlyn Baeck scored a goal and added four assists to lead the host Comets (5-2).

Sydney Keagle added a goal and junior Ava Waddell had an assist for the Comets, who got also strong play from senior midfielder Melissa Tolton and senior defender Hanna Slaski.

Franklin got goals from Ava Washington and Darian Brown.

The Comets scored twice in the first five minutes of each half.

The barrage began when Baeck deposited a rebound into the cage 52 seconds into the game.

Washington took the first of two straight Franklin shots on goal that were saved by junior goalie Megan Davis, but the Comets responded with a shot that leaked wide by Tolton.

Baeck responded with a deep run down the sideline and cross to Keagle for a 2-0 lead with 25:03 left in the half.

Neither team scored the rest of the half.

“They did come out ready to play, but then they looked like they weren’t ready to play,” said Catonsville coach Barbara Bates, whose squad was coming off a 5-1 loss to Mount Hebron yesterday. “We lost yesterday, but we played well, so we said, ‘You played better yesterday and we lost,’ if we play well and lose, I’m fine with that, it’s definitely about how you play.”

Catonsville's Hayden Kesner dribbles down the field in the first half of the Comets' 6-2 win over Franklin. Kesner scored four goals in the second half.
Catonsville's Hayden Kesner dribbles down the field in the first half of the Comets' 6-2 win over Franklin. Kesner scored four goals in the second half.

The team responded, especially the senior tandem of Baeck and Kesner.

They connected for a 3-0 lead just 39 seconds into the second half and Baeck’s cross to Kesner, with 25:38 left in the second half, expanded the lead to 4-0.

“I feel like we got to halftime and we were like, we know we are a strong team and we just need to work together,” Baeck said.

Baeck’s second and third assists of the second half to Kesner came on crosses from the right flank that were perfectly grounded to her stick and it wasn’t by accident.

“We actually did a drill during practice last week and that was all that it was about, so we were just putting it all into an actual game,” Kesner said.

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Bates used some highlights to get them engaged.

“I made them watch a video and I was like, ‘This is what I want you to do and I want it to look just like this and we did it for a really long time and everybody did it and it’s funny, something worked.’” she said.

Franklin did make it interesting when Washington scored off a rebound shot by Loryn Jordan with 20:28 left in the game.

Under seven minutes later, Franklin’s Darian Brown cut the lead to 4-2.

Less than a minute later, Baeck went right back to work, sprinting down the sideline and sending a perfect cross to Kesner, who was thrilled to be so open again.

“I was (surprised) because no one was on me a lot and I would assume that after the first two that they would start sticking on me and sticking on Caitlyn because she can cross it really well, but they never ended going on either of us,” she said.

Kesner’s final goal was assisted by Waddell with 10:40 remaining.

Baeck and Kesner have played on varsity for the past three years, so they have a close-knit bond on the field.

“We have been playing together so many years, so it kind of just happens naturally,” Baeck said.

Bates likes her team’s chemistry.

“This is the first game our offense has really jelled as far as passing and unselfish team play,” Bates said. “I just had a meeting about that yesterday with the attack, about how we kind of needed to click and so it was much better today.”

The Comets don’t get to savor the win long as they host defending state finalist and defending Baltimore County champion Hereford tomorrow at home.

But, Kesner is confident the team will continue to improve.

“We are able to show people that we have the connections and we have that ability to play up front, so that when we come down, we are even more powerful.” Kesner said.

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