Thunderstorms hit Catonsville High moments after the field hockey game ended, but the real storm came during a three-minute span in the second half when the Comets (5-3) erased a 1-0 deficit with a pair of goals and they held on for a 2-1 victory over St. Paul’s (3-3).
Junior Caitlyn Baeck scored the equalizing goal on a breakaway with 13:21 left in the game and junior Hayden Kesner scored the game winner after a fast break with 10:23 remaining.
“I kept telling the girls if you want it bad enough, anything can happen, we can win,” Catonsville coach Barbara Bates said. “This really felt great.”
After some early scoring chances, it was St. Paul’s that dominated time of possession and led in shot attempts.
“At the very beginning of the game we had several opportunities,” Bates said. “We had a lot of opportunities where we were down there and we couldn’t finish it, couldn’t put the ball in, so we kind of stopped ourselves down there which was bad.”
After the flurry of chances, it was the Gators who had ample chances.
In the final 20 minutes of the first half, the Gators had 7 of 8 shots on goal and the only one that wasn’t saved by Catonsville goalie Madison Madalansan (15 saves) resulted in a goal by Caroline Pearce.
The goal, with 4:43 left in the half, came after hard work in the circle by Kelsey Jones, who got the ball to Pearce.
Jones transferred from Catonsville to St. Paul’s.
Kerrigan Rogers had three shots on goal and Jones, Pearce, Leighton Eber and Winnie Eber all had shots on goal saved by Manalansan.
“This is one of the best games I’ve seen her (Manalansan) play,” Bates said.
Manalansan credited her defense, that included Hanna Slaski, Elizabeth Simpson and Carly Gibbons and midfielder Sophia Larson on penalty corners.
“I was a little nervous, but my defense definitely helped me stay calm,” Madalansan said. “All the other games, I was more nervous than I was calm.”
Catonsville’s defense faced an overwhelming amount of penalty corners and they didn’t yield a goal on any of them.
“I would just tell my defender just go to girl and I try to watch where they angle their body and I just see which one goes and I just angle up on them,” Madalansan said. “This is the best defense ever.”
Gibbons had two goal-saving blocked shots late in the first half and Simpson had one.
“They were blocking shots left and right,” Bates said. “They all had their heads in it. They were playing tough back there.”
St. Paul’s kept up the pressure in the second half as Pearce had a shot on goal saved by Madalansan in the first minute.
The Comets nearly tied the game with just under 24 minutes left after Baeck’s shot after a breakaway was tipped by Gator goalie Carson Stevenson (seven saves) and trickled just wide.
Baeck didn’t miss her next chance over 10 minutes later when she drilled it high into the cage.
After Kesner’s go-ahead tally, the Gators got four more shots, but two by Pearce and one by Jones were saved by Manalansan and another shot by Jones, after the Gators seventh penalty corner of the second half, sailed wide.
Although extremely satisfied with the win over the defending Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference champions, Bates still had a soft spot for her former player.
“It was a little bittersweet because Kelsey (Jones), our player, is on their team,” Bates said.