Arundel coach Christina Fellona said in March that her team knows what it takes to reach the playoffs after getting there for the first time last season.
But like most teams this spring, the Wildcats didn't know how to stave off Annapolis yesterday.
Led offensively by senior Jamie Pleyo with five goals and one assist, the No. 9 Panthers won their third game in three days, 17-6, over host Arundel.
Junior Amy Brew had four goals and one assist for Annapolis (7-1), which had beaten St. Mary's and Severn in Monday's Betty Hallmark Tournament. A defensive wing, she also had four takeaways.
Senior Karen Hunt added three goals and two assists, and junior Becky Morris scored twice.
The Wildcats (5-3), still smarting from Monday's 16-2 loss to South River in the final of their Easter tournament, were led by Nicole Ross and Jill Jones with two goals apiece.
"We had a hard time finding the open player, and a hard time catching and throwing," Fellona said. "I'm worried about their confidence now, but they're tough girls."
Pleyo scored three goals within the first 9:06 before Ross won the draw, raced in and beat Annapolis goalkeeper Abby Pfeiffer (seven saves).
On Pleyo's first goal, she came around the net and took a pass from Hunt. On the second, Stephy Samaras made one of her five takeaways and got the ball to Brew, who fed Pleyo. And on the third, Pleyo ducked a check from Arundel's Lora Buchman and beat Kim Kesselman (eight saves).
The Panthers won seven of the first nine draws and built a 7-1 lead. The last goal came with 4:53 left, when Hunt got off a shot while falling that bounced past Kesselman.
Arundel cut the lead to 8-4 with 1:52 left on goals by Tara Surlis, Lisa Givens and Jones, and again, winning draws was the key. But Hunt converted with 57 seconds left in the half, and Pleyo and Hunt scored in the first two minutes of the second half for an 11-4 lead.
"We showed nice patience on offense and our shot selection was good," said Annapolis coach Dave Gehrdes, whose team held a 32-18 edge in shots.
"We also played excellent defense in the second half. On a hot day, everybody contributed, which says a lot about our depth. It was a total team effort."
* Fallston 8, St. Mary's 6 (OT): At Fallston, No. 8 St. Mary's (10-3) held a 4-0 lead on the No. 7 Cougars (6-0) for nearly 25 minutes in the middle of the game, eventually surrendered a tying goal with 12 seconds left in regulation, then yielded three scores within the final 1:45 of the three-minute overtime period.
Kellie Thompson, one of four freshmen to start for the Saints, had three of those early goals, as the Panthers scored in the first 24 seconds, then added three in a two-minute span 10 minutes later. Down 5-4, with 30 seconds left and the ball at their end of the field, the Cougars got into position. Kathleen Turk set up Jenny Weber with a short pass and Weber worked free to put a close-in shot past defenseless goalkeeper Jen Corradini.
Two of the three overtime goals were one-on-one situations and the other was a free shot from eight meters. For St. Mary's, a 10-7 loser to Fallston two weeks ago, the calls seemed to go the other way when they needed them most, but as first-year coach Erika Mawhorr said, "We didn't give up."