After a slow start, No. 7 Catonsville scored two goals within two minutes to spark a 3-1 victory over Perry Hall yesterday for the Baltimore County championship.
In the first 40 minutes of the game, the Comets (14-1) had 16 penalty corners and could not connect on a single one. But Kara MacLeod's goal with 20: 16 left in the game brought new fire to the Comets offense.
Erin Coberth scored the game winner on a breakaway, dodging a final defender and finding the angle around Gators goalie Jill Baran with 18: 50 to go.
"We're always a second-half team," said Coberth. "Kara's goal really pumped us up, because, I feel bad saying it, but I was a little skeptical about who was going to win when the ball kept going back and forth, but after Kara scored I knew we had it."
The victory avenged the Comets' only loss, 5-3 to the Gators (8-3-1), during the regular season. That was a back-and-forth affair all game long, but yesterday, the host Comets barely allowed the Gators past midfield in the second half, dominating more than 90 percent of the action.
"Catonsville definitely outplayed us," said Gators coach Deanna Smith. "They were on the ball and we couldn't keep up. They were running circles around us."
Comets coach Kathy Schuyler said she was not worried by the 0-0 halftime score.
"Usually if we make it through the first half and we're either tied or ahead, I feel comfortable," said Schuyler, "because second half, we are much stronger. I think it's almost that we're trying too hard [in the first half]. We're overplaying the ball."
All those Comet corners proved frustrating for both teams -- the Gators for giving Catonsville the opportunities and the Comets because they couldn't score.
"It's frustrating to have the ball right there," said Coberth, "and to have the chance and just not seize it, not do anything with it. But I knew it was going to happen. It was just a matter of time."
MacLeod's goal began with Kristen Brown's cross from the right that Sarah Slafkosky sent to the left post. Perfectly positioned, MacLeod deflected the ball into the corner.
After Coberth's goal, the Gators cut the lead to 2-1 on their fifth corner of the game. Kathy Baran scored on an assist from Amanda Fischer with 11: 15 left.
But that was the only shot the Comets would allow in the half. Chrissy Blake, Sarah Starsoneck and Helen Brooks handled every ball on defense so that goalie Katie Kirby never had to make a save.
"We couldn't seem to get past that wall on the inside," said Smith. "We kept trying to pass it wide and it just wasn't working. They know one of our strongest players is on that right wing [Lori Baran] and we couldn't get it to her."
With 8: 58 left, Annie Davis added an insurance goal for the Comets.