When Dulaney's 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior midfielder Brad Berzins gets moving, he's unstoppable.
That was the case in Dulaney's 12-7 victory over Howard County's third-seeded Centennial (12-3) in the Class 4A/3A state semifinal yesterday at UMBC.
Berzins -- the Lions' top scorer with 40 goals and 35 assists -- scored four times with as many assists for the three-time state champions.
In Tuesday's championship final at UMBC, the Lions will meet top-seeded Broadneck (15-2), a 6-5 winner over fourth-seed North County (11-6) in yesterday's other semifinal at UMBC. Greg Jackson had two goals and two assists to lead the Bruins over North County, last year's 15-2 Class 4A/3A runner-up.
Dulaney (12-2) went up 3-0 during the game's first minute and 21 seconds, on a Jeff Staniewski-to-Dan Sherwood relay, and consecutive man-advantage goals by second-leading scorer Mason Ray (31 goals, 29 assists) and Berzins.
Centennial's 15th-year coach Mike Siegert called a time-out, then made an effective adjustment to a spread, half-field offense that slowed the tempo and allowed Centennial to tie the game at 3-3 with two minutes left in the period. Top scoring junior Werner Krueger (32, 15) and senior Cullen Meade (28, 34) tallied off of isolation plays, sandwiched around a two-on-one, Bill Alborn-to-Meade relay that beat Dulaney keeper Scott Gobell (nine saves).
With under a minute left, however, Berzins went to work, finding teammate Matt Steil (29 goals, 22 assists) to make it, 4-3, then netting his second tally for a two-goal lead heading into the second period.
"We knew right away that we could take their defense to the goal any time," said Berzins, who is headed for Johns Hopkins next year. He leads the Lions in their quest for coach Gary Schreiber's seventh title in 13 seasons. "We just had to keep moving the ball quickly so they couldn't slide defensively."
Alborn (26 goals, 14 assists) opened the second quarter with a goal to cut the deficit to, 5-4, but Ray countered moments later with his second goal, and Greg Ponzoli's over-the-goal assist to Berzins made it 7-4 with under two minutes left in the first half.
Berzins opened the third quarter by feeding Tim Speno for his first of two goals to make it 8-4. But the slick-passing Eagles cut it to 8-6, with three minutes left, on an Alborn-to-Krueger relay, followed by a crisp Krueger-to-Meade-to-Rob Hauff score.
Moments after Gobell stopped a point-blank shot by Art McGreevy with two minutes remaining, Berzins assisted on Sherwood's second goal of the day to again make it a three-goal Lions' lead, heading into the fourth period.
"We had contingencies to double [Meade and Krueger], but we never needed to," said Schreiber, whose squad had its winning streak ended at 45 by Towson earlier in the season. "We made some mistakes, but we were able to keep a decent lead for most of the game."
Dulaney outscored the Eagles, 3-1, in the final period on goals by Berzins, Speno and Ponzoli (27, 38).
"They were a real good team," said Siegert, whose Eagles made their first final-four appearance since winning state-regional titles 1980 and 1981. "We'd make mistakes and they'd just