Leading 15-14 with time running out, the last thing Howard wanted to do was give Oakland Mills a free-position shot.
But that's exactly what Howard's defense did yesterday.
As Scorpions' speedy third home Kathy Hurley ran to goal, she drew a foul from the collapsing Lions' defense in front of the crease. With 13 seconds left, Hurley set up for the 8-meter shot on the center hash mark.
"We couldn't have had it any better to tie it up," said Oakland Mills coach Chris Marsiglia, adding that Hurley is one of her best shooters.
Hurley fired at Howard goalie Shelly Ross, but the ball hit the side of Ross' leg and carried wide of the goal. Howard came up with the ball behind the crease and the Scorpions never got another chance.
Just before she took the free position, Hurley had dropped to the ground completely out of breath from sprinting the entire length of the field with the ball. When she got up, she found it hard to concentrate on the shot.
"Everything was going through my head at once," said Hurley. "I was thinking it all depends on me. I had no idea what I was going to do."
In the first Howard County league game for both teams, Howard (3-0) never trailed. The Lions took a 4-0 lead and barely let the Scorpions touch the ball in the first six minutes.
"They were getting possession right off the draw," said Hurley. "We have trouble with that sometimes. We have to jump right out. As soon as we got possession, we started scoring."
The Scorpions (0-3), who got four goals each from Hurley, Elizabeth Koza and Brie Rydstrom, cut the margin to two by halftime.
Two of their first-half goals were called back and those loomed large at the end of the Scorpions' second consecutive 15-14 loss. One was called back for an illegal stick and the other for a follow-through into the crease.
Down 6-4 at the half, the Scorpions played catch-up the rest of the game. They cut the margin to one three times in the second half but never managed to tie.
Oakland Mills scored four of the last five goals to pull within 15-14 with 1:21 left. Koza and Hurley scored within 26 seconds to put the Scorpions in a position to tie at the end.
Right before that, however, Howard's Amy Shourds rolled the crease to add her eighth goal, the game-winner.
Earlier in the half, Shourds sparked the critical offensive surge for the Lions. First, she intercepted the goalie clear and ran right back at Lexi Worchesky (five saves) to give Howard a 13-10 lead with 9:22 left.
Shourds controlled the next draw running down to feed Catherine Ampagoomian for a 14-10 lead 14 seconds later.