Unranked Mount Hebron backed No. 6 Catonsville into a first-half corner yesterday and emerged with a 3-1 upset victory in a Class 2A South region quarterfinal.
The two-time defending regional champion Vikings scored all their goals on penalty corners within 12 minutes of the first half. Liz Eberhart scored twice and Katie Jeschke once on similar plays developed off crisp corner passes from Leigh Langmead.
The Comets (14-2) were slow rushing the Vikings' corners, allowing uncontested shots. On each of their five first-half corners, the host Vikings took at least one good shot.
"Leigh got the ball out really fast, and we were able to stop and hit before they were even halfway there," said Eberhart. "Everything was perfectly executed -- the hit out, the stops, and the hits, we kept them down. They were some of the best executed corners we've ever done."
Jeschke scored the first goal with 14 minutes, 30 seconds left in the half, collecting Langmead's corner pass and driving it hard from just inside the circle. Then, 2 1/2 minutes later, Jeschke stopped Langmead's pass, and Eberhart drove it from about the same spot past Comets goalie Katie Kirby.
Eberhart added the Vikings' third goal with 2: 47 left in the half, again driving Langmead's pass into the cage.
"They had nice corner shots -- good hard shots," said Comets defender Helen Brooks. "I think a couple girls were intimidated by the big swing. I just don't think we rushed well enough. And we didn't cover the ball enough, because one second, you're looking over there, and the next second, it's flying past you."
The Vikings (8-5-2) have won five of their last six games and will face Owings Mills, a 1-0 winner over Atholton yesterday, in the regional semifinal Tuesday.
The Baltimore County-champion Comets, who won a Class 3A regional title two years ago, tried to rally, pinning the Vikings in their half of the field for long stretches of the second half, but they could manage just one goal.
Vikings goalie Katelyn Hoffman led a defensive stand against an aggressive Comets line that took nine second-half shots. Hoffman, who finished with 10 saves, used excellent positioning to cut off angles and play aggressively against the determined Comets.
"Katelyn played awesome," said Vikings coach Jeannette Ireland, "and as the game wore on, I felt they were not going to score. It was that mental thing -- she was getting stronger and stronger."
The only ball that got past Hoffman was a dribbler that barely made it inside the post on her left with 6: 52 remaining in the game. Hoffman had just saved a shot, but the Comets kept the ball in the circle. From a scuffle in front of the cage, Julie Libertini pushed the ball back for the score.
Although Catonsville outshot the Vikings 12-11, the Comets' inability to defend the early corners left them too far behind to catch up.
"We didn't play with the same spark we usually do," said Catonsville coach Kathy Schuyler, whose team had recorded nine shutouts and set a school record for most wins in a season. "We weren't connecting. We weren't talking. We just didn't have it."