Fifth-ranked Fallston was the better field hockey team yesterday against 14th-ranked Long Reach. The Cougars took more shots, had more corners and controlled possession for most of the second half.
"They outplayed us," said Long Reach coach Kelly Snyder.
But outplaying a team and beating a team, as Long Reach learned a few times last year, are two different things. And that's what happened to Fallston yesterday, as the Lightning made Shannon Woodward's first-half goal stand up for a 1-0 victory at Long Reach.
"Our defense saved us," Snyder said, "and in that respect, we deserved to win because we held them from scoring. But it could have been a different game if we had played our game, not a 1-0 game. Our passing was off and our positioning was off."
Long Reach senior goalie Jaye Lance, however, was on. Very on.
"Their goalie had a lot of really good saves," said Fallston senior Kellie Watts. "She was excellent."
Said Fallston coach Alice Puckett: "I told them we weren't going to score on her [Lance] head on -- that we had to make her move. And we didn't do that."
Fallston (1-2) used its quickness a few times to create one-on-one or two-on-one scoring opportunities. But Lance, an All-Howard County goalie, came out aggressively each time to end the threat.
"I like to challenge," said Lance, who had 10 saves. "It's my circle."
Fallston's Jen Selin had one of those chances midway through the first half, but Lance made a point-black save. The Lightning (2-1) regained possession and raced down field to score the only goal of the game with 14: 08 remaining.
Long Reach sophomore Shelby Orndoff had possession in the left side of the circle and went one-on-one against goalie Ashley Staples. Staples came out to challenge, and Orndoff passed to Shannon Woodward, who was wide open on the right side.
"I called her name, we made eye contact and she fed me the ball, and I slapped it in," Woodward said. "I had a wide-open goal."
Fallston, the defending Class 3A state champion and winners of eight straight Harford County titles, was relentless with its pressure in the second half. The Cougars outshot Long Reach, 7-1, in the second half and had six penalty corners to none for Long Reach. For the game, Fallston outshot Long Reach, 15-6, and had a 9-2 advantage in corners.
"We totally dominated the second half," Puckett said. "We're so fast and we're going to get breakaways. We've got to execute the two-on-one to perfection, and we're not there yet. We've got to get more disciplined."
Said Fallston sophomore Amanda Novak: "We really dominated, but we need to finish. We need to learn to get the ball in the cage."
Snyder praised the play of defensive leaders Lance, Linda Nguyen and Theresa Heston.
Said Woodward: "It's a good win, but didn't play to our potential."