St. Paul's Sarah Sloane and the Towson field hockey team had a day neither will forget.
For one 30-minute half, the unranked Generals were uncowed by St. Paul's No. 2 area ranking, and even enjoyed a 2-0 lead at one point.
But Sloane, a senior forward for St. Paul's, scored three straight goals - including the game-winner - to propel the Gators to a 5-2 victory in the championship of the Towson Invitational yesterday.
Sloane, who scored four goals all of last season, tallied six yesterday in the win against Towson and in an earlier 4-1 victory over No. 8 North Carroll. Sloane deflected the wild cheers her teammates showered upon her during and after the game.
"It wasn't just me," she said, citing the three teammates who assisted on her scores. "The assists were an important part. It was a team effort."
St. Paul's coach Heather O'Neill said Sloane has filled a void left by the graduation of two-time All-Met player Jenny Landsman, who now plays at Virginia.
"The ball was fed to Jenny a lot last season," O'Neill recalled. "Now it's up for grabs, and Sarah has stepped up."
The Gators (2-0) received a goal apiece from sophomore forward Claire Edelen (four assists for the day) and senior forward Elaine Belitsos (another goal and an assist) in the championship final, but Towson shocked St. Paul's with its aggressive play and quick-strike attack in the first half.
Junior midfielder Lucy Poole and sophomore forward Jocelyn Paul scored goals 35 seconds apart to give the Generals (2-1) a 2-0 lead with just 3:26 gone in the first half.
Despite her squad allowing five unanswered goals over the next 56 minutes, Towson coach Holly West said she was pleased.
"I think we surprised St. Paul's because we're an unranked team," West said. "They had a lot more to lose today than we did. We were in the spoiler role."
In the first semifinal, the Generals trounced North Harford, 5-0. In the second semifinal, the Gators got another hat trick from Sloane to skip past North Carroll.
Panthers coach Denean Koontz, who saw her team drop its second straight game after losing 2-1 to No. 13 Francis Scott Key last week, said three St. Paul's goals on fast-break opportunities hurt.
In the consolation final, North Carroll (2-2) shut out the Hawks, 3-0. North Harford is 0-3.