During the regular season, Fallston High’s field hockey dynasty began showing wear. The Cougars went through a prolonged offensive rut. Their dominance in the UCBAC came to a screeching halt.

But rumors of Fallston’s demise is definitely exaggerated. The No. 15 Cougars outlasted 12th ranked Bel Air, 2-1, in overtime Wednesday afternoon to win the Class 2A East Region championship.

Danielle McDiarmid’s goal with 30.3 seconds remaining in the extra session keeps Fallston’s pursuit of a fourth straight state crown intact. Tuesday evening at Franklin, the Cougars (12-5 overall) will face No. 1 Glenelg in a state Final Four contest.

McDiarmid took a clearing pass from Lindsay Summers, avoided a Bel Air (11-4) defender and dribbled towards the goal. Bel Air goalie Rachelle Ciulla came out to stop the ball, but missed on a kick save attempt. McDiarmid avoided Ciulla’s kick and knocked the ball into the empty goal, setting off a celebration of Cougars’ players and fans who mobbed the sophomore attack.

“I missed the ball, thankfully the goalie missed it,” said a relieved McDiarmid. “I was just able to put in. It was hard.”

“She’s really come along this season, and she’s getting better and better every day,” said Fallston coach Megan Grant. “She proved it today. She stepped up and made a big play when it counted.”

While McDiarmid represents the future of the Fallston program, Christina Conrad is the undeniable leader in the present. Conrad kept applying the pressure on Bel Air’s defense over the final 10 minutes of regulation after the Bobcats struck first on Taylor Klunk’s goal with 23:02 left in the game.

“We had a ton of offensive opportunities and we tried to get corner after corner, and one of them happened to go in,” said Conrad, who will attend Drexel University next fall. “We just kept playing hard.”

danielle mcdiarmid and ali petroneOn the last of three straight corners, Conrad ricocheted a pass from McDiarmid past Ciulla, tying the game with only 7 minutes, 26 seconds remaining in regulation. The Cougars outshot Bel Air, 25-6, with a 15-2 advantage over the last 30 minutes of play, displaying the mettle that led to state titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and a 49-3-1 record.

By late September, Fallston had three losses on its ledger, including its first against an UCBAC foe in nearly three seasons. Grant said a 3-2 overtime victory over defending IAAM champ and No. 5 Bryn Mawr School reversed the direction of the Cougars’ season.

“There was definitely parts of our season where we struggled,” said Grant. “Ever since the Bryn Mawr win, we’ve really come together as a team and we feel more confident.”

“We had a hard time scoring then something changed,” said Conrad. “We just kept working hard because we know what it’s like to go to states. For everyone, that’s the ultimate goal.”