Perry Hall's patience pays off with first Balto. County title

Lee's goal, Gators' strong defense help turn back Hereford, 1-0

Girls soccer

October 25, 2001|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Perry Hall has fielded a lot of strong girls soccer teams since Baltimore County introduced the sport in 1984, but the Gators had never managed to take the county championship - until last night.

Erica Lee scored in the 43rd minute to give the No. 9 Gators a 1-0 victory over Hereford, which had won three of the past four titles.

"We've never been county champions, so this is something to remember," said Brittany McKew, one of eight Gators sophomores. "We've never even made it to counties and this is just what we wanted."

The host Gators (12-0-1) also avenged four straight losses to the Bulls (11-3-1), who tied for the county title last year with Dulaney.

Early on, Perry Hall dominated play, crossing three balls across the goal mouth in the first nine minutes. Although those passes went untouched, the early surge set the tone for Gators to outshoot the Bulls, 13-7.

The Gators counterattacked well and used their speed on the wings to put pressure on the Bulls defense, but when Lee finally broke through, her goal was more of the opportunistic variety.

The play started when Lori Carpenter headed a shot that skimmed wide to Rachel Mulherin on the left. Mulherin then tried to go for the far corner with a high ball that Bulls keeper Nikki Buser slowed but could not control. The ball caromed off Buser and bounced past her toward the middle of the goal just as Lee ran down the middle onto it.

"I just happened to be in the right place at the right time," said Lee. "Rachel made a dribble up, crossed to the center, the goalie hit it off and I tapped it in."

The defense made that goal stand by executing coach Brad Kressman's game plan perfectly. The Gators put overwhelming pressure on Bulls striker Hollis Botti, the leading career goal scorer in Baltimore County girls soccer history.

Gators back Allie Barreiro shadowed Botti the entire game.

"I knew I had to stay on her, not let her turn and shut her down," said Barreiro. "If she got by me, I had to run my butt off to get her. She's got great ball skills, she's very aggressive and she's fast."

Michelle Gipprich doubled Botti whenever the ball got near her and other Gators often made it a triple-team effort. Perry Hall gave up some space in the middle, but with Botti under wraps, they could afford to. The Bulls couldn't find anyone else to finish.

"They were smart," said Botti, who has 16 goals this season. "They had three players on me. That's a good strategy, because all I could really do was distribute the ball. I couldn't take them one-on-one or anything."

Although Botti may have had the Bulls' narrowest miss when she volleyed a ball at close range off the crossbar in the 13th minute, the Bulls had their best chances to tie in the waning minutes. The Gators' 5-10 keeper Catherine Vecchione thwarted them by snaring high shots from Nicki Mueller and Tressa DiPasquali in the final four minutes of the game.

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