For the Fallston girls lacrosse team, the season-ending game against C. Milton Wright almost always seems like the county championship.
"We could both be at the bottom of the standings, and it wouldn't make any difference," said Cougar junior Cindy Jenkins.
"We can never come out and be assured of anything against C. Milton Wright."
Going into Wednesday night's game, the Cougars (11-0) knew a win would probably seal their fifth straight county title.
A loss would drop Fallston into a tie. The Cougars also were mindful that in one of two meetings last season, they barely beat the Mustangs, 7-6.
Wednesday night, however, the game didn't live up to its billing, as Fallston rolled, 16-4. And it wasn't even that close -- the Mustangs scored three goals in the final 3 1/2 minutes.
However, the victory all but clinched the county title for the Cougars, now 5-0 in the county league. Only one regular-season game remains for Fallston -- a makeup game against North Harford.
Fallston, which has won 24 of its last 25 games and is ranked No 6. in The Baltimore Sun Top 15 Girls Lacrosse Poll, proved too powerful for the Mustangs (5-4 overall, 2-2 league).
"We prepared as well as we could have," said C. Milton Wright coach Kathy Breymaier.
"Everybody knew who was going to be where and what they had to do, but we just didn't execute well. We didn't have an offense."
The Mustangs had plenty of opportunities early. The Cougars outshot them by only five in the first half. Just 10 minutes before halftime, the Mustangs only trailed, 3-1.
The Cougars' Chrissy Battenfeld scored first -- just 27 seconds into the game. Natalie Dwyer and Jenny Haslbeck added two more goals for a 3-0 lead with 17:49 left in the half.
Amanda McCulloch scored C. Milton Wright's first goal about a minute later, but that goal couldn't turn the momentum. The Cougars scored the next 12 goals.
"We were flat-footed," said Breymaier, who got fine defensive efforts from McCulloch and Debbie Keiser.
"Fallston was passing and running through the ball, and we were standing there waiting for the ball to come to us."
Haslbeck led the Cougars with three goals while Jenkins, Haire, Battenfeld, Dana Burton and Denise Sarver had two each. Dwyer, who also had four assists, Katie Kunsman and Lilley scored single goals.
For the Mustangs, Carrie Supik scored two goals and Chrissy Cann added another in the final three minutes.
Defensively, Fallston goalie Tammy Kloiber, point Jenny Colt and cover point Jenny Clark were superb. Kloiber had nine saves in the first half, including several on some well-placed corner shots. Kloiber recorded 12 saves in the game.
Colt is the only other veteran on coach Nancy Ferguson's defense, but Clark and Laura Rocchio have moved up from the jayvee and have played consistently.
Varsity veterans Kristina Lilley and Lisa Taylor have played well at defense wing.
Friday, the Cougars open their bid for a second straight trip to the Class 1A/2A semifinals.
Regional playoff action begins Friday with the Cougars top-seeded in a four-team field that should include Joppatowne, Overlea and either Edgewood or North Harford.
The Mustangs, who have three games remaining, are also playoff-bound in Class 3A/4A. Their competition will include top-seeded Perry Hall and several other Baltimore County teams.