Catonsville's aggressive, physical style threw Centennial off balance, and the Comets of Baltimore County captured a 14-8 victory in the Class 3A Region I final at Catonsville yesterday.
"We weren't used to the physical play because in Howard County they don't allow us to check without blowing a whistle," Centennial coach Gail Purcell said. "We played hesitantly because we expected the checks to be called."
Centennial (9-5) tries to play a control game, and the speedy Eagles controlled the first half but wasted several good scoring opportunities.
It was a 3-3 until Catonsville (8-2) scored twice in the final 31 seconds of the half to take a 5-3 halftime lead.
"Our shooting was really off today," said assistant Eagles coach Nickie Jordan. Centennial never got any closer than two goals again, as Catonsville stepped up its offensive game in the second half.
"We tried to shut down No. 20 [Jill Altshiller], but No. 13 [Amy Kruehl] kept popping through and was instrumental with her checking and connecting," Purcell said.
After being held to one first-half goal, Altshiller broke loose for four goals in the second half, and Kruehl added two goals in that half. The duo accounted for six of Catonsville's nine second-half scores.
Jacquie Stigall scored three times for Catonsville in the first half.
Heather Saunders and Jenny Weinecke each scored twice for Centennial, as the Eagles produced its typical balanced offense.
"I'm disappointed because I thought we would beat Catonsville," said Purcell. "But we're young. We started a freshman and three sophomores and just four seniors. We played inconsistently this year -- some outstanding games and losing some we should have won."
Centennial had beaten Class 4A Dulaney by two goals earlier this year. while the Comets had lost to Dulaney by two.
Catonsville coach Debbie Clem said her defense was the key to the game.
Catonsville started seven seniors, and eight of their 12 starters played basketball for Clem this past season.
"Lacrosse is a lot like basketball, with lots of cutting and picking," Clem said.