Fallston's girls' lacrosse team aced a two-part midterm exam last week with victories over previously undefeated John Carroll and Joppatowne.
Those wins boosted the Cougars' record to 7-0, and gave them a leg up on the final exam -- winning the county title and earning one of the top two spots for the state playoffs.
Friday's 13-8 win at Joppatowne (5-1) could be the game that endsup deciding the county championship. All this is familiar to both teams --Fallston went undefeated last year to win the county title while the Mariners finished second.
For the Cougars, who had a lot of rough spots early in the season, the victory over Joppatowne and Tuesday's 10-9 overtime win over John Carroll showcased a new-found balance of scoring power. Ten of the Cougars' 14 players had at least one goal or one assist in the two games.
"(The opposition doesn't) have any one person they can double-team to stop our attack," said Cougars' playmaker Cindy Jenkins. "We're not like Joppatowne, who has (Michele) Zaledonis and (Chrissy) Fellona, or Bel Air, who has (Heather) Heitz, they look to in pressure situations. We have everybody. We have 13 people who can go in and score."
Seven players scored goals against Joppatowne -- Megan Williams (four), Cindy Jenkins (three), Denise Sarver (two), Nichole Clark, Elise Andrews, Kristina Lilley and Natalie Dwyer scored one each. Williams, Jenkins and Sarver also had two assists each. Andrews and Karen Battenfeld tallied one assist each.
"They've surprised me," said Fallston coach Nancy Ferguson, whoworried early that the Cougars' attack might not come around. "They are complementing each other pretty well. They've got a feel for what's happening out there now, and we have gotten some pretty big wins here."
The Cougars fell behind early against Joppatowne, 1-0 and 2-1, but they came back with three goals in three minutes to take a lead they would never relinquish.
Clark scored the first of those goals before Jenkins fed Williams for two more. Lilley added a fourth consecutive score by tossing in a ground ball for a 5-2 lead.
Joppatowne got within 7-5 with 3:30 left in the half on back-to-back goalsfrom Sandy Kuehn and Chrissy Maly. Fallston retaliated with goals from Dwyer and Jenkins in the final three minutes.
In the second half, the Cougars looked tired and Joppatowne beat them to the ball constantly. Defender Kelly Prior sparked the Mariners with several interceptions. But the Mariners couldn't take advantage of their numerous opportunities.
Joppatowne outshot Fallston, 16-8, in the half. Cougars' goalie Tammy Kloiber stopped 10 of those shots including severalpoint-blank free position attempts. She finished with 18 saves in thegame.
"We couldn't beat the goalie," said Joppatowne coach Pam Reich. "She was dynamic, and that was the difference in the game. I asked her what she ate for breakfast, and she said a hot dog. I'm going to feed all my kids hot dogs next week."
Maly, Kuehn and Zaledonisled the Mariners with two goals each, while Prior and Jen Manthi added single goals.
Tuesday's Cougar victory over John Carroll markedtheir third overtime win of the season.
"A lot of our incentive comes from the tradition," said Andrews, the Cougars' veteran midfielder. "Fallston always has a good lacrosse team in the county. We sort of feel like we're not allowed to lose, like we know we can't lose. Sometimes that can carry us through tough situations."
The defense has been just as balanced as the offense with Kloiber, Andrews, Battenfeld, Clark and Jenny Colt. But one of the Cougars best assets is their ability to play solid defense at any place on the field.
Andrews sparked the Cougars on both offense and defense in the victory over John Carroll. Leading a midfield assault on ground balls as well as controlling the draw,Andrews snatched everything that came her way in the air or on the ground. She also scored the game-winner with 23 seconds left in the first of two three-minute overtime periods.
Although Andrews led Fallston with two goals and three assists, eight other Cougars also contributed to the scoring. Jenkins and Sarver scored two goals each while Battenfeld, Clark, Dwyer and Jenny Haslbeck added single goals. Lilley and Kendell Reichhart had one assist each.
Freshman Beanie Lund led the Patriots with four goals, while Kate Van Rooy added two, and Ann Abromaitis, Jen Weiland and Jenny Lund had single goals.