This season started eerily similar to the way it started last year for the Dulaney field hockey squad.
In 2017, the Lions allowed four goals and lost to C. Milton Wright, 4-2, in the season opener.
This year, Dulaney lost to C.M. Wright in the opener, 4-1.
But, the Lions have bounced back to win three straight, including Tuesday’s 3-0 whitewash of host Catonsville.
Last year’s Lions won 18 straight games after the opening loss, before falling to South River, 2-1, in the Class 4A state championship game.
Zoe Hermann scored the only goal against South River in that title game and she was at it again in the first half at Catonsville, scoring twice in the span of 100 seconds, helping the Lions take a 2-0 lead into intermission.
Sophomore Kate Proefrock got the assist on the first goal with 11:54 left in the first half.
“We had a fast break down the field and Kate had an awesome shot and it just happened to bounce off pads and post and luckily I was there to just get a touch in, but it was a whole team effort coming down the field,” Hermann said.
Junior Anna Simoes assisted Hermann for the second goal with a nifty flick.
Junior Sidney Snyder scored the final goal with 3:03 left in the game.
The win followed triumphs over Patterson Mill, 3-1, and Liberty, 2-1, in a rainy tournament at Marriott’s Ridge on Sept. 8.
It wasn’t raining drops at Catonsville High, but the Lions were raining shots on the Comets, out-shooting them, 19-2, and controlling time of possession.
“They are always great at passing,” Catonsville coach Barbara Bates said. “ They are a strong team.”
Catonsville senior goalie Madison Manalansan kept the Comets close with nine saves, while facing a plethora of penalty corners.
“Our goalie faced 17 corners, or something like that, so she did a great job,” Bates said. “All the defense did a good job.”
That defense included Carly Gibbons, Elizabeth Simpson and Maggie Marion.
“Carly, in the center defense, did a really good job, she was stopping them dead in their tracks,” Bates said. “The score could have been a lot worse.”
Marion didn’t play last season because of knee surgery and Simpson was named to the All-County team for a Comet squad that went 5-8 and lost to Dulaney, 3-0, in the Class 4A North Region second round.
Seeing Marion in the lineup was a welcome sight for Bates, whose Comets host Towson on Wednesday (5:15 p.m) and Sparrows Point on Friday (5:15 p.m.).
“She didn’t play at all last year and her main sport is really lacrosse, so we’re pretty excited, she’s very fast and came out in great shape, so we are thrilled to have her back,” Bates said.
On the other side of the field, Dulaney is adapting to the loss of 11 seniors.
“I just think things have started to click lately, after losing 11 seniors, it’s taken a little bit of an adjustment to get used to playing with everybody, especially the underclassmen,” Hermann said.
Hermann, midfielder Mae Dickens, defender Hannah Miller and goalie Sarah Shea are the only seniors.
Shea played goalie in the second half against Catonsville, while sophomore Allie Mercer played the first.
Mercer had six saves as a freshman last year in the state championship game.
That Lions squad also won the Baltimore County title, beating Hereford, 4-3, in overtime. It was the third time they beat Hereford last season.
As a senior, Hermann feels she has to take on a leadership role to help get the Lions back among the elite teams.
“We definitely try to (lead), our senior class is only four girls, so we are small, but mighty, but we are a really close group of girls who have been playing together in rec since we were five or six,” Hermann said. “The four of us together know how to play, knows how each other plays and we can use that leadership on and off the field.”
Hermann, Snyder and Lucy Jung lead the Lions with two goals apiece and Fialcowicz is expecting big numbers from Hermann.
“I am expecting scoring from her, she is playing that wing position the entire time and she is very comfortable on the outside,” Fialcowicz said. “She does a nice job sitting on the post and she’s got some confidence to her, so I am expecting her to get some goals.”
The development of the rest of the squad, that includes 10 juniors, five sophomores and a freshman, will dictate how far the Lions can go in the postseason.
“It’s a huge junior class and a lot of them went to the state lacrosse finals too, so they have the confidence, they just have to come together and it’s still early, so I’m very happy with where they are and their performance,” Fialcowicz said.
Catonsville’s Bates has several players back from last season, including midfielder Sophia Larson, attackers Sydney Keagle and Caitlyn Baeck, Olivia Hershfield and Hayden Kesner, midfielder/attacker Hannah Slaski and midfielder Melissa Tolton.
Her hope is getting the younger players to develop quickly.
“We need to get those other players to step in because they (starters) get tired,” said Bates, whose squad’s recent practices have been hampered by heat, storms and construction of a new track. “We have been on the grass all week and with the heat we couldn’ t practice.”