Unlike its first meeting with John Carroll this season, top-ranked Catholic wasn't as slow to take control in yesterday's Catholic League A Division tournament semifinal.
In a rematch of last season's final, Becky Bieneman scored 28 minutes into the game, and the Cubs (15-1-1) added two second-half goals on the way to a 3-0 win over the Patriots (9-5-2) at Utz Field. Catholic will play St. Mary's in the final tomorrow at 5: 15 p.m. at Utz Field.
"I thought it was important to be defensively strong in the first half because the team that scored first would have a better opportunity to win the game," said Catholic coach Jerry Dieter. John Carroll held the ball for the opening minutes of each half, but each time Catholic regained the momentum with its quickness and strong play of the midfield, particularly Natalie Loftus and Allison Merkle.
Merkle helped set up Bieneman's goal that put the Cubs up 1-0, settling the ball from nearly 40 yards out before passing it to Nicole Brooks, who found Bieneman unmarked near the right post.
The Cubs' persistence up front didn't let up in the second half, when goals from Loftus and Merkle put the game out of reach. Loftus pushed Catholic's lead to 2-0 with a terrific corner kick that curled over the head of goalkeeper Jenn Todd (five saves).
Merkle finished the scoring with a header off another fine corner kick from Loftus in the 62nd minute, and the Cubs' defense made the Patriots their 11th shutout victim of the season with the play of Maria Adams (sweeper) and Beth Frey (stopper).
"We knew what we had to do. We came out strong and got the job done," said Loftus.
* St. Mary's 2, McDonogh 0: Sixth-ranked St. Mary's (15-2-1) followed its strength -- a senior-dominated defense -- and two goals in the final eight minutes, to earn its third trip to the A Conference final since 1993.
Except for a few quick surges by the Eagles (12-7-2) in each half, the Saints defense was never seriously challenged, and it held McDonogh without a shot on goal until the 58th minute.
McDonogh's defense was just as good, especially junior goalkeeper Laura Fawley, who faced 13 shots and made several key saves.
The Saints, who outshot McDonogh 13-2, broke through with a goal with 10 minutes remaining, when Maria Smear's shot from 18 yards out beat Fawley high and to her left. The play was set up by a bad clear by the Eagles defense, and the ball bounced right to an unmarked Smear.
"When the ball bounced to me, I knew to hit high and to the right, and luckily it went in," said Smear.
Pub Date: 11/05/96