In two trips to Howard County, top-ranked Fallston's biggest obstacle has been the fields with high grass.
"We've got dirt where we come from," Fallston coach Nancy Ferguson said after yesterday's 4-0 triumph over No. 15 Wilde Lake (3-2). "This is the second Howard County field that's kept pretty nice.
"With high grass you tend to overrun the ball and it can also be tricky for keepers, but we adjusted, at least adjusted enough."
On the way to recording a third shutout in four tries, the Cougars (4-0) shook off a sluggish start.
Host Wilde Lake dominated the opening 10 minutes with a patient ball-control offense that produced three corner kicks but no real threats to Fallston senior keeper Emily Weibel (four saves).
Fallston's first offensive attack produced a goal as senior Courtney Benner listened to her coach's advice, putting junior Karen Tiedemann's shot off Wildecats junior keeper Jamie Marcus into the goal for a 1-0 lead.
"Fergie [coach Ferguson] always says to never trust a goalie, so play up to see if she misses the ball," Benner said. "So I did for the first time and sure enough, it happened."
Benner's second goal, two minutes into the second half, was assisted by senior Megan Tulley.
One minute later, Benner returned the favor to Tulley as the forward's goal pushed Fallston's lead to 3-0.
Senior Beth Blasi closed out the scoring by outmaneuvering two defenders before blasting a 15-yard shot high into the goal's far left corner that just beat Wilde Lake sophomore keeper Beth Johnson (five saves).
"Fallston's certainly more athletic," Wilde Lake coach Roy Andersch said, having watched the Cougars outshoot his Wildecats, 22-5. "They have better ball control under pressure and have big-time players like Benner, Blasi and [Cindy] Wolf with a great supporting cast.
"That's the difference between us. We've got a few big-time players, but they've got that supporting cast."