Fallston's field hockey team scored two goals early in the first half to spark a 3-1 victory over key rival C. Milton Wright yesterday.
For the No. 7 Cougars (7-1, 3-0), this mid-October week can make or break their season, because they must face another top Harford County league foe, Bel Air.
"It's always a pivotal week for us," said Fallston coach Alice Puckett, whose squad faces Bel Air tomorrow. "We were two points ahead of Rising Sun and vying for the home seed in the regionals. We really don't want to have to go to Cecil County [for the regional playoffs], and these [C. Milton Wright and Bel Air] are 3A schools, so they are crucial. And we want to win the county championship, too."
Yesterday, the Mustangs' defense simply couldn't stop the Cougars' aggressive, balanced offense early.
Lauren Grabowski scored on a perfect crossing pass from Stacey French on the right wing less than five minutes into the game. Grabowski was in just the right position on the post to pop French's pass behind Mustangs goalie Amy Gould.
The Cougars' second goal came on a similar but shorter right-to-left set-up by Grabowski. This time Pam Gauss nudged the pass behind Gould.
Fallston continued to move the ball well especially on the left LTC side. Left wing Grabowski, left inner Gauss and left link Kara Jackson continually pushed the ball through the Mustangs' defense.
"They had a very strong offense," said C. Milton Wright's Julie Jakum. "They worked well together. They went down the line, and that's a great way to play."
Defensively, Jenny Haslbeck, Jenny Clark and Daina Burton put constant pressure on the Mustangs' midfield. Fallston's defense only made one costly mistake.
The Cougars left Jakum uncovered at the top of the circle just after a corner play in the final minute of the half. Jakum took one shot that deflected off a defender's stick. Laura Rice picked up the deflection and pushed it back to Jakum, who scored with 36 seconds left in the half.
That goal gave the Mustangs (2-4, 1-2) the momentum going into the second half. The Mustangs had four shots in the second half -- three in the first five minutes. But the Cougars' defense held.
Susan Mackley added an insurance goal on a feed from French midway through the half.