Cindy Wolf was being stalked in the corner by two defenders from the Columbia Cougars.
With nowhere to go, the Harford United Flash Under-13 soccer team player left a drop pass for teammate Katie Tiburzi, who crossed the ball to Danielle Konschak. Score another goal.
Konschak's goal put the Flash up, 3-0, in the finals of the Maryland State Youth Cup Soccer Under-13 Championship match last weekend in Howard County.
With just 20 minutes remaining, the Flash relied on strong defense to preserve the shutout win and advance to the United States Youth Soccer Association Northeast Regional Tournament in Amherst, Mass., July 2-5.
The Flash will compete against 17 teams in the four-division tournament.
The Flash players use their heads as well as their feet. Most are honor students at their middle schools, says Chuck Martin, the team's head coach.
They compete in one of the nation's toughest leagues, Division I of the Washington Area Girls Soccer League, where girls are forced to come out strong and put pressure on opponents.
"If you come out flat, you're really going to be down," said Martin, whose team traveled more than an hour each way for WAGS competition.
"That really made the difference against Columbia," said Martin, who began coaching the Flash four years ago and also coaches girls jayvee soccer at John Carroll.
The Flash scored its first two goals less than five minutes into the contest.
Karen Tiedemann of Fallston knocked in a loose ball early in the JTC game, and the second goal was scored by Konschak minutes later, assisted by Shanna Ziegenfuss.
"We came out very fast and capitalized on errors," said Martin. We created situations by putting constant pressure on whoever had the ball."
Columbia Cougars first-year head coach Pete Kowall saw things much the same way.
"They [the Flash] were all over the place," he said. "I literally had to count the players twice; I thought they had 11 or 12 players out there."
The Flash defense held the Cougars, runners-up the past four years, to just one shot on goal the entire game. Keepers Angie Ruocco and Tina Steck shared time in the Flash goal.
The Flash defeated the Bel Air Blazers, 5-0, and the Bethesda Shakers, last year's champs, 4-1, to advance to the title game. Before that game, the Shakers had never given up four goals.
Domination is something that often comes naturally to the Flash, former champions of WAGS Division II and III, with just one loss.
After winning Division II last fall, the team advanced to Division I this year and posted a 3-4-2 record, with each of the losses by one goal. Division II champs from the four previous years had been crushed when they moved up to Division I and had dropped back down.
The teams' success comes from balance and confidence; if one player has a down game, another will step up and get the job done, said Martin.
The Flash players display strong field sense. They move to the open areas and cross the ball effectively.
The Flash defense is anchored by center fullback Nicole Froman Glen Arm. Martin said she is excellent at running through plays, controlling head balls and generating outlet passes.
Outside defenders and midfielders include Jennifer Kar--, Lauren Porter, Katie Bowman, Jenny Cook, Haley DeLaurence, Lauren Hess, Krysten Martin and Caron Mierczak. Many players play several positions.
The offensive motion is run by front-line starters Konschak, Ziegenfuss and Tiedemann.