For the past decade, the Fallston Cougars have played Queen of the Hill in Harford County field hockey, beating down opponent after opponent to stay atop the heap.
Yesterday, in overtime against host Bel Air, sophomore Amanda Novak helped insure coach Alice Puckett's team another year of supremacy.
Novak's goal 2 minutes, 48 seconds into the second sudden-death overtime period gave No. 8-ranked Fallston a 2-1 win, clinching a perfect county season, as well as the Cougars' ninth straight Harford championship.
"I just really wanted to win this game so we could just shut it out and I wouldn't feel the pressure anymore," said Puckett, whose squad has not lost a county game in those nine seasons.
This one, however, was in doubt for much of the way.
After taking a 1-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game on Kristen Cascella's goal and out-shooting Bel Air 5-0 in the first half, the Cougars (8-3 overall, 7-0 county) seemed to fall flat after the break.
Bel Air (6-4, 4-1) began to dominate, getting off seven of the next nine shots and, after peppering the goal for much of the half, tied the score on Jacque LaFleaur's effort following a penalty corner with just 1: 48 left in regulation.
"Giving up that goal at the very end of the game was huge," said Puckett. "One thing this team needs is to bounce back, which we hadn't been able to do. Today, we did it."
The Bobcats nearly ended it with a pair of point-blank shots to start the overtime, the second of which goalie Ashley Staples cleared away with an off-balance kick.
The second overtime, however, belonged to the Cougars, who didn't waste much time in ending it.
"I saw the goalie kick it out, and I thought, `Well, I guess it's all up to me,' " said Novak, who scored her third goal of the season. "I just tried my hardest to aim at the goal. I didn't know what happened, because I fell down. I didn't know I scored until everybody started to scream."
Said Puckett: "We have the speed, and I think that really helped us today in the overtime."
Now, with yet another county championship under their belts, the Cougars can look forward to regional playoffs.