Coach Patty Banick had two objectives for her Aberdeen High School field hockey team Friday: score at least three goals and keep Havre de Grace out of the striking circle.
The Eagles responded by routing winless Havre de Grace, 4-0. Christine Carroll scored two goals and Jenn Reynolds and Julie Bensch added one each.
Linda Fortin had an assist.
Defensively, Aberdeen dominated the entire game and held the Warriors to just two corners, both in the last five minutes of the game.
Sweeper Sara Cornelison led the defense as it held the Warriors to one shot on goal. That was good enough for Banick, whose Eagles did not want to give Havre de Grace its first goal of the season.
In their first six games, the Eagles already have three wins, two more than the past two years combined. Their biggest win came two weeks ago when Aberdeen stunned Fallston, edging the Class 2A state champs, 1-0, in a non-league contest. That victory improved more than just the win column.
"I see a whole different attitude now," explained Banick. "They have a new confidence. When they beat Fallston, that's when they realized they could compete with anybody."
Two days before they knocked off Fallston, the Eagles had beaten Havre de Grace, 2-0, in a non-league game.
"That was an up thing for them, because it was the first game," Banick said, "but they had beaten Havre de Grace last year, so it didn't make them realize that they could be competitive."
Although they had lost non-league games to Rising Sun and Mount Hebron, the Eagles suffered their first county setback on Sept. 28. Fallston avenged the Eagles' upset with a 3-2 victory, but that couldn't wipe out the benefits of the earlier victory.
More than anything else, the new-found confidence has bolstered the defense, the team's biggest weakness a year ago. The Eagles dropped several games by wide margins in 1989, including a 7-0 rout by C. Milton Wright.
This year, all but one of the Eagles' losses have been by a single goal. Wednesday, the Eagles again fell to the Mustangs (3-2), but this time, 1-0. Abby Walls scored the goal early in the first half on a sharp hit from just inside the striking circle.
"That goal was a fluke," said Betty Peterson, Aberdeen's center halfback, "but we're glad we did better than last year. I'm sure they expected to score a lot more goals, but we just kept at them."
The Eagles scored a morale boost by holding the Mustangs' biggest offensive threat Rachel Phillips scoreless. An All-Metro, All-County forward, Phillips had 25 goals last year, but the Eagles' defense held her off Wednesday.
"When I walked downfield by her, I heard her complaining, so I knew we were working," said Peterson.
Aberdeen faced C. Milton Wright at less than full strength. With Reynolds sick and goalie Kate German and midfielder Laura Green not back from a field trip, the Eagles were missing three starters.
Reynolds' absence probably hurt the most since the junior wing provides much of the scoring. In the second half, Aberdeen had plenty of chances including eight corners. Without Reynolds to handle that key first pass from the corner, the Eagles seemed confused.
"Nobody knew what they were doing," said Peterson, whose team managed only four shots despite all those second-half chances. "It seemed like wherever the ball was hit, that was who it was going to."
The Mustangs also deserved some credit for upsetting the Eagles' offense. Aside from the mistakes that led to the corners, the Mustangs played excellent defense all over the field.
Led by Walls, the Mustangs cut off the fast breaks and swarmed the corner plays. The junior wing controlled just about everything that came her way, but she got help especially from midfielders Carrie Supik and Julie Jakum.
Aberdeen will try to be giant killers again this week as the Eagles host Bel Air Friday afternoon. The Bobcats, county and Class 3A regional champs, have speed and experience, so the Eagles' defense will have to be on the ball the whole game.