North Carroll finally broke away from a tenacious Westminster team in the last 15 minutes to claim a 7-4 triumph in their Class 3A-4A West Region quarterfinal-round game in Hampstead yesterday.
The Panthers (11-2) now move along to face Liberty (12-3) tomorrow at 5 p.m. in Eldersburg in a semifinal-round matchup of the 15th- and 14th-ranked teams, respectively. Liberty won both regular-season games en route to the county championship.
Junior Katie Holmes' goal pushed North Carroll ahead, 5-4, after there had been three ties. Junior Danielle Shearer made it 6-4 with 10 minutes left, and North Carroll seemed to be in command down the stretch.
Westminster still had one good chance to draw within one, though, when Jessica Holman had a free-position opportunity with 1: 48 left.
Goalkeeper Josselyn Guinan was equal to the challenge, as she made the stop.
"Our defense got stronger in the second half," North Carroll coach Denean Koontz said.
Westminster (4-9) owned much of the first half, coming out stronger and taking the play away, as it scored the first goal, then opened a 3-1 margin with 7: 38 left in the half. Still, North Carroll had an edge in shots, 14-6.
"We came out with a lot of intensity, but didn't capitalize on their mistakes," said Westminster coach Suzanne Peters. "It's the same problem we had all year, We couldn't score when we had to.
"Look at our [leading] goal-scorers; they're all within a few of each other. It's nice to spread it around, but you need a go-to player, too."
Junior Kellyn Hentz, North Carroll's go-to player, countered Westminster's opening goal 36 seconds later with one of her own. It was No. 51 for the county's scoring leader.
It wasn't until the last five minutes of the half, though, that the home team began to assert itself, scoring twice to tie the score at 3.
Afterward, it was easy to see what was uppermost in Koontz's mind. "We need to play 50 minutes, not 15 here and 10 there," she said.
Her players got caught up in a game of give-and-take, too, as the teams combined for eight yellow cards. Defensively, senior Jill Pajak, one of three tri-captains, and juniors Stephanie Rogers and Erin German played well in front of Guinan, who ended with nine saves.
Up front, Shearer was a key player. "She played well," Koontz said. "She does a lot of [good] things you don't see."
In two earlier meetings, North Carroll had won 7-6 and 13-5.
Walt Whitman 10, South Carroll 3: Senior Becky Buppert scored two goals in a losing effort as Walt Whitman defeated the visiting Cavaliers (3-10) in a 3A/4A West quarterfinal game. Walt Whitman started strong, outscoring South Carroll, 7-1, in the first half.
Pub Date: 5/10/98