May 11, 2008

May 11, 2008

by Craig Muder, Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

HERKIMER, N.Y.- Last year, the CCBC-Catonsville Cardinals walked away from the NJCAA women's lacrosse national title game thinking it was the better team, but without any hardware to prove it.

This year, the Cardinals left no doubt.

Jessica Baublitz scored five goals and Kelly Viens made 15 saves in goal as Catonsville defeated Harford, 13-6, in the junior college championship game Sunday at Herkimer County Community College.

Catonsville, which lost to Anne Arundel in last year's championship game in a five-overtime thriller, jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the game's first five and a half minutes and never led by fewer than five goals after that.

"Last year, we should have won it, and we knew we should have won it," said Catonsville head coach Tom Taylor, whose team finished the season with a perfect 15-0 record. "This year, I think we played all season like we remembered that feeling."

Baublitz, Lacrosse Magazine's preseason NJCAA Player of the Year, gave Catonsville a 5-0 lead at the 16:52 mark of the first half before the game settled into a less-hectic pace. And with Harford trailing just 10-5 with less than six minutes remaining in the game, Baublitz scored three times in 161 seconds to put the game completely out of reach.

"When we started slowing down and stopped rushing, we weren't playing our game," said Baublitz, a Baltimore native who was named the tournament's offensive MVP. "When we started pushing again, they really couldn't stop us."

Harford finished the season 8-5, with four of its losses coming to Catonsville. The top-ranked Cardinals outscored the Fighting Owls 61-29 in those four games between schools located about 40 minutes apart in the Baltimore area.

"They're a very good ballclub, and we knew that going in," said Harford coach Pat Reich, who had just two substitutes available for the entire game. "But we never put our heads down. We played until the bitter end."

Marleah Haley and Kathleen Tress scored two goals apiece for Harford, but Catonsville's defense often limited the Fighting Owls to one shot per possession. Cardinals freshman defender Shaneka Gordon was a force in front of the net, scooping up loose balls and then using her superior speed to jump start the Catonsville offense.

"She didn't pick up a lacrosse stick before last year," Taylor said of Gordon, the tournament's defensive MVP. "But I told her that all she has to do is get the ball off the ground and she'll be fine. To catch her, you better have a car, a truck or a motorcycle."

When Harford did get a shot off, Viens stopped most of them.

Emily Deckert had 13 saves of her own for the Fighting Owls, but Catonsville seemed capable of scoring almost at will. Kyle Evans scored four goals for the Cardinals, while Marina Henry added a goal and two assists.

For the Cardinals, the win caps marks their third national title in the last five years.

"Losing last year's title game was on our minds all year," Baublitz said. "Now, we've got something better to remember."

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