No. 3 Good Counsel’s hustle off the field after the first half against Sherwood looked more like a postgame celebration than halftime for a team up by six against an undefeated opponent. Sophomore midfielder Kendall Welch jumped around screaming “yeah!” and players hugged before they grabbed their water bottles.
But that edge was just what the Falcons (11-3) needed after seeing five games decided by five goals or fewer in the past month. They went on to score seven unanswered goals in eight minutes for a 19-6 win at home.
“We like to keep our energy up,” senior Nicky Ortlieb said of the halftime rally. And of the recent close games: “Our mentality is to learn from our mistakes and to correct them.”
Those mistakes came in an unexpected loss to No. 6 Broadneck last week in which the Falcons never led, and in a dangerously close win against WCAC competitor Holy Cross three days later. The win against Sherwood (9-1) puts the Falcons back on track at the perfect time. They travel to No. 1 St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes on Saturday, and conference playoffs begin next week.
“It’s nice to have this win against someone so close to us. We’re still working together as a team on some things, but we still feel we can pass to anyone,” said senior Madison Hoover, who scored a hat trick. “We wanted all of our seniors to play well, and we knew that they weren’t going to be an easy team.”
The Falcons knew they needed to put a lock on Johns Hopkins-bound Emily Kenul, who was able to get the Warriors within two in the first half but didn’t break through again until the last eight minutes. Kenul was able to snatch 30-yard lobs from near the Warriors goal and use her speed to transition the game, but the Falcons kept a tight watch on her and the other Sherwood players around the 25-yard mark until they could force turnovers.
It was a strategy that kept the Warriors, who have allowed just one team to score double digits against them this season, from gaining any edge on their nationally ranked opponent. The Falcons outscored their visitors 10-3 in the second half despite a lineup altered by senior night. Ortlieb scored five goals, and senior Haley Giraldi scored four.
Like most high schools, Good Counsel starts all of its seniors on the night of their last home game. But the Falcons keep all of the seniors in all game, every year, instead of subbing out the honored players for the usual starters at some point.
Keeping the Warriors at bay without a handful of starters is a testament to the depth of the Falcons lineup, which features seven signed seniors and a freshman, Taylor McDaniels, newly committed to North Carolina. It’s also a good sign for a team that has spent the past month struggling with unexpectedly close games.
“That all the seniors can play the whole game just shows a lot of trust in each other, in all of our teammates,” Ortlieb said. “And the intensity from this is going to be great going into St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes.”