The heralded matchup of Nos. 1 and 2, Fallston and C. Milton Wright, a battle of 9-0 teams, was everything it was supposed to be. In the end, the difference was simply too much Beth Blasi.
The Fallston senior, an All-Metro selection a year ago when she was Harford County's Player of the Year, scored both goals in the first half, and the Cougars held on for a 2-1 victory at C. Milton Wright.
The Wright goal came with 18 minutes left in the game. When sophomore Jamie Gerhart got the ball to junior halfback Erin Lesh away from two defenders, and Lesh knocked the ball past goalkeeper Emily Weibel, it marked only the second goal scored against Fallston this year.
At the other end, the two scores allowed by senior Erin Updegrove, a two-time All-County selection, equaled the number she had permitted in the first nine games. Four of the last five meetings between the two rivals have been decided by one goal, including one in overtime, and this was the first time the home team had not won since 1991.
"Blasi was the difference," said Peter Griffiths, in his first year as Wright's head coach, after having served with Ken Dawson for 10 years. "With a team like Fallston, with its ability and speed, we needed two inside midfielders, so Jamie Gerhart dropped back to team with Erin Lesh."
Blasi scored her first goal with 16 minutes left in the half when she drilled a shot to the far upper corner, and the ball hit the inside of the post and caromed into the net.
Less than seven minutes later, she was back again, spinning around defender Miranda James and knocking the ball past Updegrove when the keeper came out to challenge.
Each side had one excellent scoring opportunity in the final 10 minutes. First, Blasi hit the crossbar from about 20 yards out, and moments later at the other end, Jamie Gerhart got a chip from Lesh, but Weibel came out to block an attempted kick away.
"We like to control the ball, but I thought we had too many balls in the air," Fallston coach Nancy Ferguson said. "And, we had that one stretch of about 10 minutes [in the second half] where we seemed to let down."
Whereas James used her speed and skills to frustrate the Fallston attackers, the visitors still were able to control the play for much of the time, though, because time and again sweeper Jenn Cook would send kicks through into the offensive end. "She has the foot and can control the ball, so it allows us to run on to it," Blasi said.
The goals raised Blasi's season total to 14, tying her with teammate Courtney Benner, who is on the front line with her, and whose play gives the team a complementary one-two punch.
Such has been the Harford supremacy of these two teams over the last four years that Fallston has lost only to Wright (once) among county schools, and Wright has lost only to Fallston.
This usually had been the season-ending game for both teams, but this season, each has two strong county foes left as both must play Bel Air and North Harford.