No. 2 Roland Park avenged its only non-win of the season against a league opponent by edging No. 9 Friends, 7-6, yesterday in the semifinals of the Association of Independent Schools A Division Tournament.
The win sent the two-time defending champion Reds (12-1-1) into tomorrow's title game against No. 7 Mount de Sales. The game, at noon at Garrison Forest, will be the first meeting between the AIS's two highest-ranked teams, whose regular-season meeting was rained out.
Yesterday, the host Reds had trouble shaking Friends (9-3-2), an excellent defensive team, which had tied Roland Park, 4-4, in their first meeting.
Both teams knew a high-scoring game would favor Roland Park, and that a low-scoring affair probably would go Friends' way. For most of the game, this one was somewhere in between.
The Quakers, who had scored seven or more goals just five times this season and more than eight only once, wanted to slow down the game by maintaining possession.
But in the first half, they turned the ball over too many times. The Reds played good team defense, but the Quakers didn't help themselves by forcing passes and rushing the clears.
Although they answered the Reds' first two goals, the Quakers fell behind late in the first half.
"We didn't want to get into a running game," said Friends coach Carol Samuels. "When it was 2-2, we were trying to get the ball and hold it for a while hoping to go into halftime tied, but it backfired. We made two mistakes and we went into halftime down 4-2."
The Reds scored two goals in the final 7:13 of the half. Brent McCallister broke the tie on a spin move, firing a low bullet past Friends keeper Heather Bohanan (11 saves).
In the next three minutes, the Reds narrowly missed two more goals, including once when Elizabeth Rodgers charged into Bohanan as she tried to leap high and shoot over the keeper. On the second, Catherine Passano picked off Bohanan's clear but fired wide.
With 1:17 left, however, Peggy Boutilier fooled a Friends double team with a step back before blasting through to bounce one in for a 4-2 Reds lead.
The Reds held onto the momentum early in the second half as McCallister found the perfect angle on a free position from wide on the right side.
Still, Friends, which was unbeaten in 10 games, wasn't finished. The Quakers quickly rallied for back-to-back goals. Open in front of the crease, Vanessa Coe snatched a high pass from Shawny Nellums and fired past Reds keeper Kim Shuey (six saves) to cut the lead to 5-3.
Summer Downing, coming around from behind the crease, added the second of her three goals on a terrific roll inside a Reds defender for a shot Shuey couldn't reach.
Roland Park finally broke the momentum when third man Brady Beale scooped up a ground ball off another misfired clear. With Bohanan still backpedaling into the crease, Beale shot the back-breaker into the open net.
Coe matched that goal and with 4:27 left and Downing matched another by Reds' attack wing Melissa Cully, but the Quakers could not catch up.