When Arundel girls lacrosse coach Sue Licameli started organizing her school's Easter tournament back in December, she had no idea how good the other competing teams would be by April.
She learned a few things about Harford County's Fallston yesterday afternoon.
The Cougars, unbeaten and ranked eighth in the metro area, broke open a close game after halftime and defeated the Wildcats, 13-8.
Arundel (3-5), winners of three straight until yesterday, will face Atholton of Howard County in tomorrow's 10 a.m. consolation. The Raiders lost to Mount de Sales, 10-5, in the other semifinal.
"I think we held our own and played our caliber of game," Licameli said. "Too bad I didn't put (Fallston) against Atholton or Mount de Sales. I didn't know what any of the teams were going to be like."
While Fallston (8-0) was returning most of the players that carried it to the Class 2A-1A state finals last year, Arundel had to replace nine starters -- including its two leading scorers -- from a team that won only four games.
Licameli expected a slow start this year, especially with her first four games against what she called "state contenders" --Southern, Severna Park, Chesapeake and Annapolis. The Wildcats lost all four by an average of 6 1/2 goals, but rebounded with wins over Archbishop Spalding, 13-11, Old Mill, 7-5, and Meade, 11-2.
"I knewit was going to be rough early, and they've improved tre
mendously from the first couple games," said Licameli, in her second season. "We had a lot of internal problems which we cleaned up, and they seemto be coming right along."
Senior attacker Patti Bartosiewicz, who scored three goals against Fallston, said, "The three wins we just had have given us a lot of confidence."
That feeling carried over to yesterday's game, when Arundel took a 4-3 lead on Bartosiewicz's second goal off a pass from sophomore attacker Lesely Knowles with 13 minutes, 54 seconds left in the opening half.
But Fallston senior Denise Sarver scored twice to close the half, giving the Cougars a 5-4 lead, and Arundel trailed the rest of the way.
Sarver and juniorattacker Cindy Jenkins each had four goals and two assists, but Jenkins did all her scoring in the second half.
"We basically tried toget somebody working free up top so we could get the defense to commit and open (Jenkins) up for some shots," said Fallston coach Nancy Ferguson.
Arundel was behind, 7-5, with 23:39 left when the Cougarsnetted four straight goals. They benefited throughout the half from precision passes, something both teams lacked in the early going.
"We were making short passes instead of long, crisp passes, and we just kind of crumbled a little bit," Bartosiewicz said. "But we'll bring it together. We were just caught a little off-guard."
Licameli said, "We kill ourselves with little things -- lob passes and not having our sticks down to go after ground balls, little things that give you the advantage in a game. But I think the girls are realizing it. I see the light bulbs going on."
The Wildcats still are without starting keeper Kathy Brady, a junior who could be lost for the season with strained ligaments in her right knee. Sophomore Sara Phillips made six saves and had virtually no chance on most of Fallston's second-half goals.
"Sara did the best she could," Licameli said. "She did a fine job in there. She's taking up the slack."
Knowles and junior Tammi Gosheff each had two goals, and senior Megan Sharpe scored once. Fallston junior Jen Hasleback had three goals.