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Dulaney's Bridget Kelly, left, and Howard's Kacie Costello tangle in Dulaney's 3-0 victory in the Class 4A North Region I championship game.
Dulaney's Bridget Kelly, left, and Howard's Kacie Costello tangle in Dulaney's 3-0 victory in the Class 4A North Region I championship game. (Craig Clary / BSMG)

The No. 8 ranked Dulaney field hockey team spread the scoring wealth and got a flawless defensive effort in a 3-0 victory over visiting Howard (8-6) in the Class 4A North Region I championship game.

Dulaney (13-1) won its ninth regional title in the last 10 years and moved on to the state quarterfinals, where they are a one seed and hosting Sherwood on Friday, Nov. 1.

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Last year, Dulaney lost in the state championship game.

“Hopefully, we make it there again and hopefully we come out with a win to complete it,” said senior Becca Puente, who had one of the goals, along with juniors Emily Mowbray and Carmen Ray.

Sidney Snyder, Katie Proefrock and Anna Simoes had the assists.

Mowbray broke a scoreless tie 5:40 into the game after a corner that started with Puente and was sent in by Bridget Kelly and redirected by Snyder.

Howard’s first shot came from Gabby Rabold with over 21 minutes left in the half and that went wide and another by Kacie Costello was saved by Dulaney goalie Allie Mercer (five saves).

Howard had another chance after a penalty corner inserted by Katie Sloan that led to a flurry of shots and deflections, but the Lions remained unscathed.

Dulaney senior Becca Puente scored the second goal in her squad's 3-0 victory in the regional title game.
Dulaney senior Becca Puente scored the second goal in her squad's 3-0 victory in the regional title game. (Craig Clary / BSMG)

“We talked today about like sacrificing for our teammates and even when we are tired or anything and there was one shot that Allie, our goalie, went down and Emma Chandler (defender) went down, so they both like sacrificed for the goal,” Dulaney coach Lauren Iacoboni said.

Howard struggled to get used to Dulaney’s grass field and also were called for several two-minute and five-minute fouls.

“We knew Dulaney was a fast team and the field difference is a huge thing to what we are used to, but they fought hard and it’s tough when you don’t have calls going your way,” said Howard coach Courtney Sprissler, whose squad had only played on turf fields. “We definitely had some good opportunities, but it was a big difference, them being used to it.”

Dulaney’s Puente is surely used to the grass field after practicing on it every day and she made an adjustment after her tip off a Snyder cross went wide of an open goal with 24:40 left in the first half.

Just 19 seconds later, she deposited an assist from Proefrock into the cage.

“I knew what I did wrong on my first one, instead of having my stick just down and waiting for the ball to come, I swung my stick, so when the second opportunity came I knew to fix it, so I fixed my mistake and luckily I scored off of it,” Puente said.

It’s not unusual to see Puente perched on the corner of the cage.

“We have to have people on the corners on the posts so if a ball comes wide, we can like deflect it either in the goal or back toward teammates in the circle, but it does work when we are spaced out and we adapt to people further out and will push in, so that we can then have someone there to deflect the ball,” she said.

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Howard didn’t get another shot on goal the rest of the half and the Dulaney defense of Chandler, Amalia Hobbs and Mae Jung stiffened the rest of the way.

“Our defense does a really good job of making sure they stay in their formation, so they have someone backing up each other in case someone does hit the ball and it goes past them,” Puente said. “We trust our defense a lot and throughout the whole field we trust each other and have confidence in one another.”

Dulaney senior Sidney Snyder drives a ball in the Lions' 3-0 victory over Howard. Snyder had an assist in the win.
Dulaney senior Sidney Snyder drives a ball in the Lions' 3-0 victory over Howard. Snyder had an assist in the win. (Craig Clary / BSMG)

Howard’s defense of Lindsay Cowan, Grace Bounds and Karter Hayden and goalie Rachel Murphy did a fine job and didn’t allow a goal after they were forced to play short-handed when a player was banished after a second card with 11:20 left in the game.

But, at that point, Dulaney had built a 3-0 lead following a penalty corner inserted by Simoes that led to a shots by Lucy Jung and Snyder and assist from Simoes to Ray.

The win came on the heels of a 1-0 win for Dulaney over Perry Hall in the semifinals.

“We just weren’t really on on Monday and we talked about it today and it was like day and night,” Iacoboni said. “We definitely controlled the ball and we focused on our passes more.”

The key to the passing and ball control came from midfielders Snyder and Proefrock and they didn’t go unnoticed.

“They work really hard about dishing the ball in and out,” Iacoboni said. “I’m always saying in and out or end line, so that’s like our big thing, we just try to control the game in that way.”

Despite the loss, Howard’s second-year coach Sprissler did get some satisfaction from her squad’s playoff run that included a 2-0 win over Catonsville, when Cowan and Madison Anthony scored goals.

“We haven’t been to the regional finals since like the mid 90s, so it’s been rough, but I was proud, we got one game farther then we did last year, so keep it going further one game each year,” Sprissler said.

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