After yesterday's season-opening win over Patapsco, one of Pikesville's girls lacrosse players asked coach Danielle Spigler if the win meant they had won their division.
That question wasn't nearly as strange as it sounded.
A year ago, Pikesville finished second to Patapsco in Baltimore County's Division II. The deciding factor? Patapsco's one-goal margin of victory over the Panthers. Neither team lost another division game.
Only time will tell whether yesterday's 19-16 Panthers victory ends up deciding the division winner. Still, it was a terrific start for Pikesville, which had the experience advantage over the visiting Patriots.
"It was very key to start our season off in the right direction," senior midfielder Lindsay Eisenberg said. "This gives us the idea that we can win and that we can beat any team out there."
Carly Goldstein scored the game-winner with 5:31 left, ending a four-goal Patapsco run that had tied the game at 16 with 6:47 to go. The Panthers won the last four draws and Goldstein and Emily Cohen added insurance goals as Pikesville kept the ball almost exclusively in its end of the field after Goldstein gave it the lead.
The Panthers appeared to take control early in the second half when they emerged from a 10-8 halftime deficit with an 8-1 run. One of Kate Zimmerman's seven Patapsco goals, catching a tight angle off a crease roll, was the only interruption to the run and tied the game at 11.
Pikesville then converted a Patapsco turnover as Kirsten Sortman fed Cohen for a 12-11 edge. The momentum swung once again in Pikesville's favor.
Taking the center draw against Zimmerman, Eisenberg began to position the ball toward Sortman, who controlled four straight draws. The Panthers scored off each possession and Sortman also assisted on the next two goals. When Eisenberg fed Cohen for a 16-11 lead, 16:58 remained in the game.
"[Draw control] led us to a big goal streak, because we were able to get fast breaks and run by them," said Panthers attacker Kathryn Seidman, who scored one of her seven goals during the five-goal spurt.
The Patriots had trouble covering the Panthers in that spurt. Pikesville players repeatedly found openings in front of the goal.
"We were letting them catch," said Patriots senior Jessica Johnson. "We weren't playing the ball, we were playing them once they caught the ball."
The Patriots tightened that defense and came back quickly with five goals in less than 10 minutes. Sarah Dugan scored twice to start the run. Johnson sandwiched a goal between two Zimmerman scores.
But Patapsco could not maintain the momentum once the Panthers started dominating the draws again.