The Perry Hall girls soccer team is still steaming from its tough loss in last year's Class 4A state championship game.
This season, it has made the No. 3 Gators more driven, more focused and more together.
With all of that, the wins continue to pile up.
On Monday, the Gators dominated No. 9 Patterson Mill from start to finish, getting goals from Jessica Auvil, Ryleigh Fachler and Abbey Dennis, and earning their fifth straight shutout win, this one 3-0 at home.
Perry Hall improves to 6-0 this season, while Patterson Mill goes to 3-2.
The Gators returned the majority of last year's team that fell to Walter Johnson, 3-2, in the state title game and have been on an early-season mission — avenging that loss to the Wildcats with a 3-1 win in their opener and then outscoring their next five opponents 13-0.
"I think this year is definitely a continuation from last year, and I think that's what has led to our early-season success," Perry Hall coach Matt Smoot said. "They came back with the same mindset and a lot of the same skill set, so we've been able to focus more on some of the finer points as opposed to always having to talk about possession and having to build first. They know it already, so it's all reinforcement."
Monday against the Huskies, the Gators played smoothly in back, were quicker to the ball at midfield and were connecting passes throughout to create scoring chances. Persistently getting forward, they finally broke through with 12:47 to play in the first half when Auvil finished on a well-placed corner kick sent in from Phoebe Canoles.
The Gators made it 2-0 early in the second half when Fachler took a pass from Kara Dietrich, had two quick touches to set up her right foot for a goal from 10 yards out with 34:11 to play. Dennis sealed the win when she found the upper right corner on a penalty kick with 10:03 left.
"This season, we're back to get what we came short of last year," said Canoles, a captain who dominated at her center midfield position throughout the game. "We're ready to get back to where we were and we working hard. … We're hungry."
The Huskies, who have been finalists the past two years in the Class 1A title game, weren't on their game Monday. Coming off a 2-0 win over No. 10 South River last week, they didn't have the ball enough to challenge the Gators.
Midfielder Marissa Lapinsky provided the limited spark Patteson Mill had on offense with two dangerous penalty kicks that Gwin punched away. Goalie Marie Claire Cicenia was tested throughout and responded with nine saves.
"[Perry Hall] was really good, and that wasn't our best performance," Patterson Mill coach Mike Parker said. "I was expecting it to be a lot closer than it was. But you know how soccer goes — every day is a new game and you have to play your best at all times."
The Gators return to action Wednesday with their biggest game of the regular season, visiting Baltimore County rival Sparrows Point, ranked No. 8.
Last season, Perry Hall ended Sparrows Point's 36-game winning streak with a 2-1 overtime win in the regular season before the Pointers avenged the setback with a win over the Gators in the county championship game for a second straight time. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m.
The Huskies return to Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference play on Wednesday, when they travel to North East for a 5 p.m. game.
No. 9 Mount de Sales def. Catonsville, 3-0: Hanna Katulski had a team-high 13 kills and Camille Kreisel added four aces and 14 assists to lead the Sailors over the Comets in three sets, 25-17, 25-09, 25-12.
No. 5 Mount Saint Joseph 1, No. 14 Loyola Blakefield 0: Casey McCanna scored with 16 minutes left to lead the visiting Gaels over the Dons.
No. 4 McDonogh 2, Marriotts Ridge 0: Izzy Marsh and Blake Cunneen each scored to lead the host Eagles over the Mustangs.