Sophomore goalie Vivian Montgomery-Walsh led a stellar defensive effort in Catonsville High School's bid to get to the girls soccer state tournament’s final four.
However, Montgomery-Walsh's 14-save effort wasn’t enough as the Comets fell to Sherwood, 1-0, on a goal by senior Ashley Webb 5:48 into the 20-minute overtime in the Class 4A North Region championship game at Sherwood Wednesday.
Catonsville (8-7-1) was trying to get back to the state semifinals for the first time since 2013 when the Comets lost in the state title game.
“I just ran full speed to the goal and shot it to the goal and it was phenomenal,” said Sherwood's Webb of the goal that was assisted by Kelly Carter. “I felt one coming and it came.”
That came late, but nothing came early against a Catonsville defense led by wingbacks Jen Gast and Taylor Stephen, stopper Leah Marshall and sweeper Sam Rawlings.
“The four of them played really, really tough,” Catonsville coach Gary Lynch said.
It was Montgomery-Walsh who set the tone when she saved a point-blank shot from 4 yards out by Webb.
Catonsville standout midfielder Lauren Vogelpohl had the Comets' first shot on goal in the 13th minute after a throw-in by Gast, but it was saved by Brenna Alewynse.
Sherwood’s second golden scoring chance came 18 minutes into the half when Michella Amaguana re-directed a corner kick from all-state selection Ariella Amaguana from 5 yards out that Montgomery-Walsh repelled with a one-handed save.
“She had Casper behind her to keep some balls out of the net, that needed to stay out of the net and each time she made a save the kids just played a little bit harder,” Lynch said.
It was more like Houdini in the net with just over 10 minutes left when a scrum in front led to rapid-fire shots from Michella Amaguana and Megan Jackson that Montgomery-Walsh managed to keep from crossing the line.
Montgomery-Walsh recalled the first-half challenges, included the one that almost got away.
“A lot of them were off the corners and I was surrounded by a bunch of girls and they started kicking me in the head accidentally, so I think that was probably the toughest,” she said. “It was in front of the goal for several seconds and that was definitely stressful.”
The stress mounted with 5:35 left in the half when a shot by Sherwood’s Danielle Rohrman hit the post.
Catonsville picked up the pace in the waning moments behind outstanding hustle in the midfield by Vogelpohl and seniors Kelsey Scott and Andrea McTaggart.
Two more shots by Sherwood (12-3) in the final four minutes were saved by Montgomery-Walsh and another sailed high as the missed chances mounted.
“It was very frustrating,” Webb said.
It became more frustrating for the Warriors in the second half when the Comets kept setting up speedy Kayla Wood in the Sherwood zone and Catonsville started taking control of 50-50 balls.
Nine minutes into the second half Sherwood had three consecutive corner kicks in 90 seconds and didn’t get off a shot.
Catonsville was getting some quality combinations, but no shots on goal.
With just over 12 minutes left in regulation Stephen took three straight corner kicks, but only Vogelpohl’s back-headed flick into the box gave the Comets a scoring chance and nobody was there to finish.
With 6:45 left in regulation Sherwood almost scored, but Webb’s shot hit the post and the rebound shot from in front by Michella Amaguana was pin-balled back by Gast’s head.
With under two minutes in regulation, Sherwood had another corner kick from Ariella Amaguana, but it was cleared by Aubrie Zepp.
Amaguana chased down the rebound, but her shot was corralled by Montgomery-Walsh and the game went into overtime.
Just 30 seconds into overtime, Rohrmann had a shot from inside 10 yards that was saved by Montgomery-Walsh.
Wood had two possible breakaways early in the overtime, but the Sherwood defense of Kristen Russell, Delaney McMenamin, Annie Shigo and Barbara Pizzaro stood firm.
Moments later, Webb ended the Comets magical playoff run that included a 12-0 opening round victory over Western, 2-1 triumph over top-seeded Howard and 1-0 victory over second-seeded Perry Hall in Section I.
“It was a team effort and we played really well,” Montgomery-Walsh said. “We weren’t expecting to make it this far this season and the experience was amazing and it was my first year on varsity and starting was definitely a lot of pressure, but I think with a strong team supporting me that we were able to hold them off.”
Lynch praised his team’s playoff push.
“We got to play the best teams around and that’s what you hope for and you hope that you are prepared for it and we showed that we were,” he said.