First-year Catonsville coach Rick Pizarro said he implemented the only strategy that made sense yesterday against powerful Loch Raven, putting as many bodies as possible at the defensive end of the field.
"I was playing one striker up and five at midfield," said Pizarro, "and it still didn't do any good."
The host and second-ranked Raiders used their speed and passing ability to slice the defense of the previously unbeaten Comets to shreds, outshooting them, 35-1, on their way to a 6-0 victory in a Baltimore County 1A-2A League game.
Loch Raven (10-0 overall, 8-0 in the league) has outscored its opponents, 66-2, giving coach Lou Menegatti a reason to sing the team's praises.
"Considering that we only had to replace two seniors from last year's team [that won the Class 1A-2A state championship], I'd say this team could be as good if not better," said Menegatti, whose team struggled with Catonsville in last year's playoffs, trailing, 1-0, before winning, 4-1.
"We're definitely starting to peak."
With senior Robyn Harry (three goals and an assist) aggressively directing the Raiders' potent offense, this game got out of reach early.
Just 1 minute, 29 seconds into the first half, Harry scored from in front of the net off a pass from Kim Allen to put her team ahead, 1-0.
Then it was Courtney Martinez's turn to shine. First, the junior sent a hard shot off the far post, then came back to score consecutive goals off passes from Carrie Winkler -- all in the first 15 minutes -- to help extend the lead to 4-0 at the half.
Menegatti said the Comets' defensive posture surprised him.
"We were a little surprised that they decided to pack the goal and play defensively," said Menegatti. "The girls were able to shut down what offense they had, and that opened up our offense."
The Comets' only shot came on a header from 15 yards away with three minutes left.
For Catonsville (8-1), the loss ended what had been a perfect run through the early season. After winning just three of 11 games last season, the Comets hoped to stake their claim as one of the county's best.
"I knew they were a superior team coming in," said Pizarro, who coached Centennial to state championships in 1991 and 1992. "We don't have their skills, and we just weren't aggressive enough."