It’s difficult to imagine that Southern-AA would have such an explosive performance in its Class 1A girls lacrosse state quarterfinal — producing a whopping 18 goals — and still lose to Fallston by three goals.
Yet that’s exactly what happened Wednesday night when the two teams bombarded each other to the tune of 39 goals.
The Cougars prevailed, 21-18, while needing every ounce of effort to overcome such an offensive-minded foe while earning a spot in Saturday’s state semifinal against Smithsburg.
Four Fallston standouts — senior midfielder All Schromsky, junior midfielder Ayla Galloway, junior attacker Ava Lambros and sophomore attacker Sydney Grafton — rippled the net four times each while senior midfielder Macy Burke chipped in with three goals.
Only three Bulldogs (12-3) scored, although senior midfielders Lia Huggins (8 goals) and Jordan Wheeler (4) and junior midfielder Emmie Mudd (6) were almost unstoppable.
In fact, if it hadn’t been for Fallston’s junior goalie tandem of Erin-Kate Roeder (6 saves) and Cameron Rohner (5), the Cougars could have been in big trouble.
As it was, Fallston had its hands full with Wheeler and Huggins dominating on the circle as Southern (10-5) jumped out to a 4-1 lead.
Things calmed down a bit when Grafton joined the rotation of Cougars fighting for draw controls.
“They’re No. 11 (Wheeler) is an incredible drawer,” Fallston coach Maddie Palo said. “We tried a lot of different match-ups to stop her. When we were able to get possession, we were able to make things happen. We also started to adjust to their attack. Overall, adapting to the game was the difference.”
And having Grafton on hand to battle for possessions was key, Palo said.
“When (Grafton) was going up against the draw we were able to get possession consistently, and that was a big help,” Palko said.
Grafton said that she tried to counteract Wheeler’s wrist strength on the circle.
“I tried to just push it every time, and that makes for a 50-50 chance rather than her getting it every time,” she added.
With control of the ball, there was no holding back the Cougars.
“Once we started to adapt to their defense and their pressure-out, we worked together more,” Grafton said. “And our defense made some really good stops, too. We turned it on after we started to get those draws.”
Trailing, 13-12, early in the second half, Grafton netted the tying goal and Burke scored back-to-back goals to give Fallston a 15-13 advantage. Junior attacker Delaney O’Mailey netted her only goal of the game to make it, 16-13, finishing the pivotal 4-0 run that gave the Cougars the lead for good.
Southern coach Courtney Yeatman said that the Bulldogs came out strong, but so did the Cougars.
“I think it was just two strong offenses going together,” she said. “It just ended up being who can score the most goals in 50 minutes.”
FALLSTON 21, SOUTHERN-AA 18
Southern 10 8 — 18
Fallston 9 12 — 21
Goals: S-Lia Huggins 8, Emmie Mudd 6, Jordan Wheeler 6; F-Sydney Grafton 4, Ava Lambros 4, Ally Schromsky 4, Ayla Galloway 4, Macy Burke 3, Olivia Parker, Delaney O’Mailey.
Assists: S-Ashlyn Deans 2; F-Sydney Grafton 2, Delaney O’Mailey, Ally Schromsky, Macy Burke.
Saves: S-Grace Legacy 4; F-Erin-Kate Roeder 6, Cameron Rohner 5.