How will the much-improved Wilde Lake girls soccer team fare againstthe county's top teams?
After four non-league games, the answer is still unknown.
A year ago the Wildecats lost by big scores to county powers Centennial and Hammond and by closer scores to Howard and Oakland Mills.
The Wildecats, ranked sixth in The Sun's girls soccer poll, have won all four games this season, but struggled in two of them. And noneof their four opponents so far were ranked.
"We're still looking for consistency," Wilde Lake coach Rick Wilson said. "We're not a seasoned team yet."
Thursday's 2-1 victory over Fallston was one of those ugly wins that coaches will take over losses, but which keep them awake at night wondering why it was so close.
Fallston, of Harford County, is winless at 0-3 and didn't measure up to Wilde Lake in soccer skills. But the Cougars had some good athletes, marked Wilde Lake's top scorer Renita Young well and took the Wildecats out of theirball-control offense with a physical style of play.
"It was frustrating," Wilson said. "But what it boiled down to was a lack of concentration on our part."
The game was scoreless until late in the first half when Wilde Lake's senior right halfback Jen Anderson banged a crossing pass from right to left to junior forward Steph Taddeo. Taddeo blasted a right-footed kick into the left side of the net from 6yards out for her first goal of the season.
Fallston tied the score about 15 minutes into the second half when Katie Kunsman settled acrossing pass and booted it into the left side of the net from closerange.
Wilde Lake closed out the scoring about 12 minutes later on a solo effort by Reny Trellis, who banged a left-footed kick from just outside the 18-yard line on the left side of the field.
Freshman Fallston goalie Susie Harrison, who made 15 saves, juggled the ball and as she did, carried it into the goal for the score. It was Trellis' third goal this season.
Wilde Lake, which outshot Fallston, 20-10, missed plenty of other chances, including one 10-yard shot at an open net that sailed over the crossbar.
Fallston stacked its defense with two sweepers, a stopper and two outside fullbacks in an effort to stop an offense that scored 19 goals in its first three games.
And the strategy seemed to work.
One sweeper, Denise Sarnec, marked Young, who was leading the Baltimore area in scoring with five goals and three assists when the week began.
"They were giving us shots from the 12-to-18 yard range, but we were trying to dribble in closer," Wilson said. "And their defense was tough in there."
Fallston has a history of playing Wilde Lake tough. Last season the Wildecats squeaked out a 1-0 victory.
Fallston coach Nancy Ferguson started five freshman Thursday at Wilde Lake, and she was pleased with their effort.
"We played better than we have been, and we weren't intimidated by their physical style," Ferguson said.
Wilde Lake players said it was Fallston that set the physical tone for the game andthat they underestimated the Cougars. "They were beating us up, and then we got called for fouls when we retaliated," Trellis said. "Theydefinitely surprised us."
One part of Wilde Lake's game that did perform well, except for one lapse, was its defense. Senior sweeper Piper Schubert, freshman stopper Carrie Brelsford, senior fullback Tara Tidgewell and sophomore fullbacks Carrie Chao and Ryan McDonogh pleased Wilson with their play.
"Our heads were a little big, and hopefully we got them knocked down a little and can go forward from here," Wilson said.