Just over a week ago, Middletown High School freshman Carly Tolino was an unassuming member of the Knights junior varsity girls lacrosse squad.
On Tuesday, in just her third varsity start in goal, Tolino acted like a seasoned veteran and turned in an outstanding 13 save performance as the Knights defeated visiting Tuscarora 9-7.
“Carly stepped right in and has been doing very well,” Middletown coach Gretchen Martin said. “If she's nervous, she has not showed it and she will only continue to get better.”
Tolino, who was called up after starting goalie Sydney Frey suffered a concussion, has played well in relief and helped the Knights (5-3) navigate through the toughest part of their schedule. She recorded a 21-15 victory over Carroll County's Francis Scott Key on April 17 and kept Middletown competitive during Thursday's 15-13 loss to state power Westminster.
“She came in unexpectedly last week against two really good teams and was amazing,” senior captain Julia Karcewski said. “She's only been playing a couple years and there's been no drop-off.”
Against Tuscarora (7-3), which is in the midst of its finest season, Tolino kept the Titans' attack in check during the first half by only allowing a single goal. She was almost as good in the second half, but surrendered three goals in the final 7 minutes, 8 seconds to skew an otherwise near flawless game.
“It has been difficult,” Tolino said. “I can't goof around, but I still do. I've had to be really locked down and focused. I mean, it has been kind of surreal for the past week, but the fact I am on varsity is hitting me now.
“That's all good, but I don't want any credit. In crucial moments I think I've played well, but that's all due to the defense and girls in front of me. They've made it really easy for me to just do my job.”
Middletown built a 3-0 lead when senior defender Erin Wein scored at 11:49 mark of the opening half and held the Titans scoreless until Jamie Nicholson scored at 7:13.
Junior Dani Barbeito scored the first of her two goals more than three minutes into the second half to give the Knights their largest advantage of the contest, 6-1.
But Tuscarora responded and cut the deficit to three on three different occasions. It eventually closed within two, 9-7, after Miranda Malagari scored back-to-back goals with just 19 seconds remaining. Middletown, however, would win the ensuing draw and run out the clock.
“We got tired at the end,” said Karcewski, who led all scorers with three tallies. “Tuscarora is one of the best teams in the county so you got to give them credit. In the end though, we got the win and that is all that matters with playoffs coming up.”
Middletown 9, Tuscarora 7
Tuscarora 1 6 — 7
Middletown 5 4 — 9
Tuscarora (7-3): Jamie Nicholson 2, Kenna Gubler 1, Caitlin Miller 2, Miranda Malagari 2
Middletown (5-3): Julia Karcewski 3, Taylor Altomare 2, Erin Wein 1, Sam Barbeito 1, Dani Barbeito 2