North Harford’s girls soccer coach Tom Berg knew that his team’s tough, non-conference schedule would benefit them in the long run.

Despite losing close games to the likes of No. 3 Mercy (2-1) and No. 5 C. Milton Wright (1-0), the Hawks drew off the experience of playing those matches against top competition and dug deep to beat host Catonsville, 1-0, on Monday evening in a Class 3A North quarterfinal game.

“I thought the game could have gone either way but we had a little more experience,” said Berg.  “We had a very tough schedule this year. We played Mercy, Maryvale and C. Milton Wright. We faced six teams ranked in the top 15 and I think that was the difference tonight.”

Junior Kelli Gerding scored the lone goal for North Harford (11-4) in the 10th minute and the defense held off the Comets to advance to the semifinal round against Patapsco, a 3-0 winner over Poly.

A loose ball got by Catonsville goalie Kelli Beard, who was drawn out of the net, and Gerding fired a shot into the empty net for the game’s only score.

“I was just following the shot and I happened to be there at the right time to put it in,” said Gerding.  “That goal was really important because it helped our team keep up our intensity for the rest of the game.”

Beard, who suffered a knee injury early in the contest, sat out for a few minutes but returned to make six saves, including five in the second half, to keep the Comets in contention.  With 13 minutes to go, Beard stopped two point-blank shots but the Catonsville offense couldn’t connect.

But as good as Beard was, Hawks’ keeper Haley Ford was just as stellar.  Ford also finished with six saves and shutout an opponent for the 28th time in her career and eighth time this season.  She will be playing lacrosse at Penn State next fall.

“Catonsville is a good team, they had some very nice shots on goal but I think our defense did a good job of keeping the ball out,” said Ford, who said she was nervous due to the long bus ride from Harford to Baltimore County.  “This win is big for us because our soccer team has never been this far [in the playoffs], so we’re very excited.”

Along with Ford, the North Harford defense made timely stops as the Comets continued to charge in the second half.

With 15 minutes to play, senior Christina Verzi knocked the ball away from Catonsville sophomore midfielder Claudia Flister, just before she could get her shot off from point blank range.

Minutes later, sweeper Leah Monticello dove in to deflect a shot on an empty goal with five minutes remaining, after Ford was out of position.

“Defense is our strong point,” Berg said.  “Michelle Meeder, our sweeper, did a great job.  We put Leah Monticello on [Catonsville striker Nicolina Felts], we knew she had scored a lot of goals for them and we wanted to shut her down.  If we were going to get beat, it would have had to been someone besides her.”

“It’s always disappointing to end your season with a loss and unless you win a state title, it’s the only way you are going to end your season,” said Fitzpatrick.  “It’s also doubly tough to end it on your home turf.”

He added: “I think it was a game that we could have won but we just didn’t seem to have that desire or drive to take it from them.”


North Harford 1, Catonsville 0
North Harford101
North Harford-Gerding.
North Harford-Ford 6; Catonsville-Beard 6.