C. Milton Wright's girls soccer team showed up at Dulaney Friday afternoon thinking about their last trip to the Timonium school.
In last year's Class 3A/4A Region I championship, the Mustangs needed a shootout to beat the stubborn Lions. Friday, the Mustangs worried thatthis year's game might be that close too.
The third-seeded Mustangs (10-3-1) started off sluggishly and it cost them dearly.
The Lions scored two goals in the first 15 minutes, and that's all they needed for a 2-0 win and the regional title.
"We were really nervous early in the game," said C. Milton Wright junior Amanda McCulloch. "If we had been calm and collected, I think we could have started out a little better. Last year, we beat them ina shootout and that made us really nervous."
Dulaney (11-1-1), which had lost to the Mustangs in their last five regional playoff meetings, showed no early jitters. The top-seeded Lions dominated from the beginning.
Dulaney coach Evie Quinn told her squad that strikingquickly could be the key.
"I wanted to get a goal early. If we did, I thought the momentum would swing our way. I didn't want to be four goals down early like we were against Loch Raven in the county championship."
After that 5-3 loss against Loch Raven, the Lions apparently learned their lesson by taking the advantage early against C. Milton Wright.
Talented sophomore striker Aimee Vaughn scored bothgoals. The first she booted past Mustangs goalie Danielle Rivas (eight saves) on a feed from Megan Truxell. The second she headed away from Rivas on a perfectly placed ball from Lisa Welch.
Although Dulaney outshot the Mustangs, 19-11, and had a couple of other good chances to score, the Mustangs fought them off.
The Mustangs also had plenty of chances to score. They put good pressure on Dulaney goalie Courtney McClelland (five saves), especially in the second half.
Amanda Boch had probably the best chance to score. Early in the second half, she closed in on McClelland, who came out after her but slippedand fell. Boch got a clear shot, but booted the ball over the goal.
While the Mustangs battled for every ball in the midfield, they were frequently outmaneuvered by the Lions. The Lions also succeeded inkeeping the ball away from Amanda Fouts most of the game. That kept Fouts from moving the ball up on offense and setting up the break forspeedy forwards Jen Catlin and Boch.
McCulloch, Fouts, Taryn Szerensits and Stephanie Burnham battled the Dulaney midfielders, but theLions were usually one step ahead. The Mustangs didn't quite have the overall team speed to stay with Dulaney.
"We've never had a lot of speed," said Mustangs coach Ken Dawson. "This year we have a little more on the line with Catlin and Boch, but we've never had any realburners. We've played tough defense all year. That's what we've relied on."
One of Dawson's primary goals for the season had been to improve the defense which suffered the brunt of graduation last year. Rivas and McCulloch have been the heart of the defense, but there have been strong performances too from Jackie Bangert and Amy Morse as well as midfielder Szerensits.
Dawson didn't start a single senior on defense, except Rivas, but the Mustangs allowed just 10 goals in 14 games.
After losing 10 players to graduation, Dawson's team accomplished a great deal this season. The Mustangs dropped only one county game -- to Fallston -- and they shared the county title with Joppatowne.
"I told them to think about the positives, because they came a long way," Dawson said. "They came farther than a lot of people thought they would. I'm proud of them.
"When you get to this level,you play good teams. Whoever converts is going to win. You've got tolook at it this way, we could have lost in overtime to Perry Hall."
The Mustangs beat Perry Hall, 2-1, in double overtime in Tuesday'sregional opener. Fouts scored the game winner four minutes and 12 seconds into a second overtime period.
Second-seeded Perry Hall is ranked No. 10 by The Sun. Neither the Mustangs nor the Lions are ranked.
Christie Ream scored the Mustangs' first goal against Perry Hall. Rivas kept the Mustangs in the game with 11 saves.
"I'm upset that our season had to end," said McCulloch, after the loss to Dulaney. "But we're only losing three people, so we'll be back next year."