Only eight minutes had elapsed in Friday's Class 2A-1A Region IV semifinal, but Southern girls lacrosse coach Linda Kilpatrick already had seen enough.
Her top-seeded Bulldogs had outshot visiting Owings Mills, 12-3, only to allow the Eagles' Michelle Asher to tie the game at 3-3 on her squad's fourth shot of the game.
Calling a timeout and huddling her players, Kilpatrick shouted, "We're in the playoffs. There is no tomorrow."
And the jump-started Bulldogs (9-4) responded by outscoring the 5-6 Eagles, 6-0, over the next six minutes (13-2 for the half) en route to a 21-9 victory.
The Bulldogs led, 21-6, with 10:44 remaining in the game when Kilpatrick lifted her starters, with the exception of goalkeeper Crystal Bennett and defenders Kim Smith and Cory Paul.
"I think we were just a little nervous with this being our first playoff game," said the Bulldogs' Jennie Young, who scored five times with two assists to raise her team-leading total to 44 goals and 24 assists.
"We just had to calm down and play our game. When we did, we started pumping in the goals."
Talaya Barnett (37 goals, nine assists) scored four times with two assists, followed by Becky Archambo (three, two), Liza Bigger (four goals), Rachel Gladwell (three goals) and Kari Sherbert (two goals).
In Tuesday's regional championship game, the Bulldogs, ranked 8 in the Baltimore Sun poll, will play host to the winner of the other semifinal between second-seeded Pikesville and third-seeded Towson.
With the help of Sherbert (27 goals, five assists), Archambo (23, seven), Bigger (23, five) and Gladwell (21, 12), the Bulldogs pack the county's most potent offense and are favored to win the regional crown.
After that, however, Southern could face the area's top-ranked team, two-time state champion Loch Raven of Baltimore County, in next weekend's state semifinal.
Loch Raven brought a 65-game winning streak into the playoffs, including a 23-0 shellacking of Owings Mills. The defending champs are favored to win Region II, as are No. 2-ranked Region I contingent Mount Hebron and No. 5 Fallston of Region III. Both teams entered the playoffs unbeaten.
Southern won three straight state-regional titles from 1987-1989 before finishing as Class 2A-1A state runner-up to Loch Raven and missing last year's playoffs for the first time in Kilpatrick's tenure.
"It seems like it's been three years since we've been in the playoffs, even though it's only been one," said Barnett, who, like Young, was a freshman when Southern won its last state-regional title.
Young said, "We know how well we can play. It's been forever, but I think we're ready to get back there again."