Even though C. Milton Wright's girls lacrosse team had already beaten Aberdeen once this year, Mustangs coach Kathy Breymaier wasn't taking the Eagles lightly in their second meeting Friday afternoon.
"Iwas worried about this game," Breymaier said. "Aberdeen is a good team. They're improving, they have a good coach and anything could happen.
Breymaier had plenty to be worried about early as the visiting Eagles came on strong, controlling the draw and moving the ball well onoffense. Aberdeen took leads of 2-1 and 3-2. Even when they fell behind, the Eagles remained just a goal or two back until the middle of the second half.
Then the Mustangs (6-2) snapped back with excellent defense and a strong passing attack to take a 16-10 victory.
The Mustangs emerged from a sluggish first half and early second half to score nine goals in the final 17 minutes. Early on, they forced passes and couldn't find the corners on their shots. But in the second half, it was a different story.
The Eagles (2-6) cut the Mustangs' second-half lead down to one twice. But they couldn't tie the game. Up, 7-6, in the second half, the Mustangs scored four unanswered goalsin seven minutes.
"Sometimes we're a little inconsistent," Mustangs center Kelly MacNeil said.
"When something goes wrong we get down on ourselves. We just need to pass more. When we're being double-teamed we have to learn to pass off. That was our problem when we lostto Bel Air. Everybody was being double-teamed, and that left a person open but we weren't seeing it. I think we did a lot better today."
Especially late in the second half, the Mustangs took advantage ofa lot of openings at the expense of the Eagles' attempts to double-team. Veteran center MacNeil and rookie defense wing Leigh Biggerman each had a goal and an assist in that four-goal string. Alison Braue and Meredith Peters had the other two goals.
Linda Hodgin, who led Aberdeen with five goals, scored on a pass from Sally Sobczyk to cutthe lead to 11-7, but the Mustangs finished off the game with five of the last eight goals.
Braue led the Mustangs with five goals, while Peters added four. Biggerman had two goals and three assists, while MacNeil and Carrie Supik added two goals each. Debbie Keiser had one goal.
For Aberdeen, Betty Peterson scored four goals, Kate Germano had three assists, and Dawnavan Scott had one goal and one assist.
The Eagles, who played short defensive starters Belinda Petrie and Julie Bensch, couldn't cover the Mustangs once they spread out their offense. When they did steal the ball, their transition game oftenbroke down at midfield.
"In the second half, we just didn't cut to the ball," Aberdeen coach Ken Zorbach said. "We made passes that weren't there. We made passes and then didn't go to the ball. C. MiltonWright played really good defense. They all sagged back, and it was hard to penetrate through there."
Breymaier got strong performances from all of her field defenders. Keiser, a sophomore cover point, and Biggerman played exceptionally well, reading the passes and scooping up the ground balls.
Early in the season, Breymaier had been most concerned about the defense because a lot of the Mustangs were inexperienced there. In Friday's game against Aberdeen, only one starting player, point Tammy Schmidt, was a veteran of last year's varsity team.
In addition to Biggerman, a two-time county tennis champ, and Keiser, sophomore defense wing Stacey Milton was new. Breymaier hadalso moved a talented attack player, senior Rachel Phillips, to third man to fill in some defensive holes.
The Mustangs, who have dropped only a pair of one-goal games to Joppatowne and Bel Air, will need to keep their defense tuned up. Monday, they face Howard County foeCentennial, and Wednesday they travel to Fallston for the first of two meeting with the undefeated Cougars.
"Those two losses are going to motivate us more, because we want to win a big game," Breymaier said. "I think we're going to get up for Centennial and Fallston, because we'd really like to beat them, if only for our own pride."