A simple recipe has gone a long way for the North Carroll girls lacrosse team this season.

Youth and speed provide most of the offense. A smothering team defense stops the opponent, helped by a big save here and there from goalie Josselyn Guinan.

Throw it all together and you have a Panther team that is 9-0, after a 9-7 win over county rival Westminster last night in Hampstead.

With their 4-0 county mark, the No. 13 Panthers have clinched a share of the county title and could claim it outright with a win at South Carroll on Monday.

Last night, sophomores Kellyn Hentz (three goals) and Danielle Shearer (two goals) got the offense started, and a strong team effort on defense contained the county's leading scorer, Amy Bittinger, and the rest of the Owls' potent attack.

"We like to get the ball up the field in a hurry. We're quick and balanced," said North Carroll coach Denean Koontz. "The defense did a nice job double-teaming the ball. We didn't do anything differently [to contain Bittinger]. We just wanted to play our game and make adjustments after if we needed to."

With Hentz and Shearer both scoring twice and senior Chiaro Deiaco also scoring, the Panthers had a 5-1 lead late in the first half.

"We didn't show up in the first half," said Westminster coach Suzanne Peters. "I don't know if we were nervous or what, but we were dropping passes we usually don't drop and not playing our game."

Some strong play in goal from Lisa Duke (12 saves) kept it close for Westminster (6-4, 2-2), and when Bridget Geiman scored her second and third goals of the half in the last two minutes, the Owls trailed only 5-3 at the break.

A restart goal from Annie Eggers four minutes into the second half, followed by Megan Rittler's goal 15 seconds later, had the Panthers up 7-3 and the game nearly out of reach. But the Owls had other plans.

Finally getting their strong passing game going, consecutive goals from Meghan Smith, Dena Mielke and Michelle Payne pulled the Owls to 7-6 with 14: 11 left.

Then, it was the goalies' turn to temporarily take over.

Duke made a big save on Hentz. Bittinger had a restart in front, which Guinan (seven saves) got a stick on. Duke turned aside a Kristen Dowlin shot from the right side; Guinan answered -- another restart chance by Sarah Palaia.

"We were stagnant in the second half," Koontz said. "The instant we get up on a team, we have to learn to stay on them."

The next goal finally came 11 minutes later when Carisa Kreichauf found Dowlin in front to give the Panthers an 8-6 lead.

Pub Date: 4/25/97

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