Baltimore County, Md. -- On Tuesday, it was a crisp autumn evening in Baltimore, but the Knights remained hot as they dispatched Frederick 3-1 to end the regular season on a 16-game winning streak and win their first Maryland Juco Athletic Conference Championship in more than seven seasons.
The win also gives the Knights the No. 1 seed and a first round bye in the NJCAA Region XX Division I Tournament, which begins for Essex in the semifinals round on October 29. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. and the tournament is being hosted by Harford Community College.
CCBC Essex (16-1, 7-0 Maryland Juco) began the game pressing hard, but the Frederick defense was up to the challenge, limiting the Knights to just one shot in the first 12 minutes of play.
In the 13th minute of play, however, freshman Dani Zacierka (Sparrows Point) began a run before being pulled down in the box that would lead to a penalty kick.
Freshman Kara Dietrich (Perry Hall) converted the kick for her NJCAA Division I leading 43rd goal of the season, giving the Knights a 1-0 lead.
It was also the 100th goal scored this season for Essex.
The rest of the half would go on to be played primarily in the middle of the field with the Knights holding a 1-0 edge at the break.
Frederick (10-3-1, 4-2-1 Maryland Juco) would strike 10 minutes into the second half when Lindsey Brant scored her 43rd goal on the year to tie Dietrich for the national lead.
It took the Knights 10 minutes to respond in kind.
Ryleigh Fachler (Perry Hall) would put in a head ball past the Cougars' keeper off a ball from Dietrich to make it 2-1 in the 67th minute of play.
"It was really exciting," Fachler said. "And the fact that we pulled it out was great."
In the 78th minute, Fachler would net the dagger when she would put another head ball past in off a beautiful cross from Taylor West (North Point) to make the score 3-1. Is was Fachler's ninth of the year.
"I am usually one of the shortest players on the field," said Fachler, who stands at 5-foot-1. "So I have a saying that I use, 'Heart over height,' to motivate me to win head balls. It was so exciting to score on two headers in game like this."
Emily Vetri (Sparrows Point) did not tally a goal or an assist, but her play, especially at the midfield, was one of the biggest reason the Knights were able to control the ball so much.
Sam Tornatore (Eastern Tech) made her 17th consecutive start in goal and finished with three saves. She now has 37 saves this year with a 1.47 goals against average.
*Patrick Coonan also contributed to this article.