A little confidence added up to a big win for North County's girls lacrosse team in yesterday's Class 3A-4A, Region II final.
North County's attack of Karen Wick, April Hall and Michelle Dillow combined for five goals and three assists as the third-seeded Knights upset second seed and host Dulaney, 12-8.
The Knights (8-6) will meet county rival and No. 3-ranked Severna Park (15-0) in the state semifinals.
"We're playing very comfortable and we're playing with confidence," North County coach Tom Taylor said. "These girls have never been to the playoffs or in postseason play and they are mostly juniors and sophomores."
The Knights took an early 4-1 lead in the first half, using short, quick passes to their advantage and beating the Lions on the fast break.
"We've gotten more composed and matured a lot," North County senior captain Jen McGuire said. "This is the first year we've had a good passing team and it helped us a lot."
The Knights also were helped by the absence of Dulaney's top scorer. Aimee Vaughan, who led the 14th-ranked Lions (9-6) with 45 goals and 18 assists in the regular season, did not play. Vaughan missed practice Wednesday because of illness and did not play yesterday because she was still sick and because of a team rule that requires attendance at practice the day before games.
"Even though she has scored in every game this season, I don't feel her playing would have changed the outcome of the game," Dulaney coach Anita Noel said. "We just didn't really pass and catch well and we made a lot of mental mistakes."
Natalie Thingelstad's goal brought Dulaney to 6-5 less than two minutes into the second half.
North County responded with four unanswered goals to take a 10-5 lead with 8:30 left. The Knights tightened their defense by intercepting passes at midfield and dominating on ground balls.
"I told them not to play with their stick but with their feet," Taylor said. "If you play with your feet, you force turnovers."
The Knights also controlled faceoffs in the second half, losing only one out of nine.
Dulaney led only once when Jen Bacon scored the first of her three goals 34 seconds into the first half. North County's Dillow tied it two minutes later, and Wick's underhanded shot at the 4:58 mark gave the Knights the lead for good.
Bacon and Thingelstad shared top-scoring honors for Dulaney with three goals each. Hall led the Knights with three goals and McGuire and Melanie McMullen added two.
Julie Easter had eight saves for the Lions, who out-shot the Knights, 27-21. Junior Joyce Farmer had 12 saves for North County.