From a territorial standpoint, Arundel came closer than any team in the county this season to staying on even terms with No. 2-ranked Severna Park yesterday afternoon in Gambrills.
As for scoring, it was no contest.
Behind a three-goal performance from junior Nicki Barnes, the Falcons were more aggressive and resourceful with their time spent in the scoring circle, coming away with a 4-0 win over the determined, but less refined Wildcats.
The opening minutes of the second half told the story.
The Wildcats, down 2-0, were pressing to get back in the game, earning consecutive penalty corners.
On the first, Jill Marano pushed a pass to Christine Cline, who had time and an opening, but couldn't get off a shot. Marano then took a shot on their next corner with Severna Park goalie Kim Lawton (seven saves) kicking it aside.
The Falcons were able to eventually break out, getting a penalty corner of their own which Barnes finished on in front.
"That was the whole key. We kind of held back and were tentative with our chances. We didn't execute and they did," said Arundel coach Clint Gosnell.
"I was very pleased with the effort and there was definitely a lot of positives."
The Falcons improve to 11-1 overall and remain perfect in county play at 8-0 with a regular-season finale against Chesapeake (9-1-1, 7-0 in county play) set for next Tuesday. The Wildcats lost their third straight, falling to 6-6 overall, and 5-3 in the county.
The Falcons count on some tough tests at the end of the regular season to prepare for their defense of the Class 4A state crown. Before they meet No. 10 Chesapeake next week, they will take on No. 9 St. Mary's on Friday.
Despite yesterday's win and plenty of good things that came with it, most notably Barnes' dominating effort at her left wing spot, coach Lil Shelton had a list of things her Falcons can improve on.
"You can never be totally satisfied. We were a little tentative going to the ball at times; we still have work to do on finishing and denying opponents clears," she said. "But we also did some really nice things. I thought our passes to the wings were outstanding."
Barnes took a pass from senior Erin Shaklee four minutes in, was fast around the left corner and sent a hard drive off a tough angle to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead.
Her next two goals came off penalty corner chances.
The Wildcats never let up with Marano and wing Elizabeth Harris creating most of the unfinished opportunities.