Until yesterday, Fallston's girls soccer team never had beaten Hammond.
The No. 4 Cougars had come within two goals each of the past two years, but they never maintained the intensity to knock off Hammond.
All that changed yesterday when the Cougars dealt the unranked and rebuilding Golden Bears their worst-ever defeat, 8-0.
"What goes around comes around," said Hammond coach Dave Guetler, who graduated nine starters from last year's state Class 1A-2A finalist team. "They're very fast, and we're not as fast as we used to be, and this is a game built on speed."
Guetler tried a new defense yesterday, but it couldn't stop the Cougars, especially starting strikers Beth Blasi, Courtney Benner and Jenny Weber, who combined for five goals.
The Cougars controlled the ball most of the game and outshot the Bears, 21-3. They also did something they haven't always done -- they never let down.
"We've gone down there and taken it for quite a few years now," said Fallston coach Nancy Ferguson, "and it's not that we're trying to run it up, but we were mixing it up pretty well. It was nice because we didn't let up, and that's one key read on any team. You tell the kids not to sit on it and it's hard when they're looking at a board and they see 3-0, 4-0 or something, but this team kept pushing through."
The rising Cougars, who lost in the state semifinals last fall to eventual champion Loch Raven, have played non-league schedules packed with Howard County foes for the past few years. "Howard County teams are the ones who show us how good we are," said Fallston stopper Beth Rappold. "I'm glad our schedule has them. Even though it's not great to lose like we have in the past, it's always been a good experience for us. The last few years we were young and now we're peaking, so if we're going to do it, now's the time."
The Cougars, who return every starter, misfired on a couple of opportunities before Cindy Wolf scored in the 16th minute. From about 20 yards out, Blasi chipped a pass to Wolf, who played the ball off her body and shot past Bears keeper Laine Zelkowitz.
Blasi, who finished with two goals and two assists, fed Weber in the 23rd minute for another close-range shot that the diving Zelkowitz couldn't reach.
Before the half was over, Blasi scored two goals and Benner another for a 5-0 lead. Wolf, Benner and Jen Cook scored the Cougars' second-half goals.
"They seemed to keep two people on the outside and two people in the center on top of each other," said Hammond stopper Michelle Willis. "That formation and their speed -- they had a lot of speed on the wings -- made them really hard to stop."
With both coaches using their benches most of the second half, Hammond threatened only on one corner.
The Bears' best opportunities came in the first half. They couldn't get an open shot off a corner kick and Emily Bielefeld couldn't find the angle on a breakaway, both within the first four minutes. In the 19th minute, Angela Trancucci sent a strong direct kick over the Cougars' wall, but Fallston cleared it out.