The steadily improving Glenelg High School field hockey team met the steadily fading Wilde Lake Wildecats Friday afternoon at Glenelg. The result did nothing to reverse the momentum of either side.
Kate Stermer gave the Gladiators a 1-0 lead four minutes into the contest when she converted Glenelg's first penalty corner opportunity, and Jennifer Anthony scored on a penalty stroke with 7:30 remaining to seal a 2-0 victory.
Glenelg (6-2) improved its county record to 3-0 and won its fifth straight game. Wilde Lake, which was off to a promising 3-0-2 start, dropped its third consecutive game, all against the county. The Wildecats, considered a possible county title contender at the season's outset, have yet to win a league game.
"At this point, we're playing like a bunch of individuals. We're not playing as a team," said Wilde Lake coach Terry Smith. "There's a good play here, a good play there, but it doesn't flow."
After falling behind quickly, the Wildecats played a pretty lethargic first half, failing to get off a shot on goal. But a different Wilde Lake team took the field following intermission.
Wilde Lake halfback Bita Nooranbakt just missed scoring a game-tying goal in the opening seconds of the half. The near miss aroused the Wildecats, who kept the ball inside or near the Glenelg striking circle for the majority of the half, but could only manage three shots on goal. Only one of Wilde Lake's six penalty corners resulted in a shot.
"We just didn't have that extra something it takes to keep following the ball," Smith said. "We don't have that spark."
Glenelg found sparks in a variety of places.
Sweeper Karin Kantowski led a defense that has improved markedly in the past two weeks. Kantowski was a constant thorn in Wilde Lake's side, stepping up to disrupt offensive plays with strong clears. Link Kate Brinker and halfbacks April Pich and Kristen Dressel also took turns stealing the ball from the Wildecats and igniting the Glenelg offense.
Offensively, the quick-striking Gladiators showed why they've already scored 22 goals this season, which has included non-league victories of 6-4 over Middletown and 5-2 over Walkersville. Glenelg's defense, halfbacks and front line passed well to each other. The Gladiators also outhit the Wildecats, who were no slouches in the stickwork category.
"This was a nicely played game for the high school level," said Glenelg coach Ginger Kincaid. "We've been having a little trouble marking in the circle, which was evident at times today. I didn't like the way we started the second half. They had a lot more opportunities than we did.
"Right now, anybody any day can score on this team," she added. "I can't even tell you who the leading scorers are. The whole line can score.
Position for position we're stronger and more balanced than we were last year."
The Gladiators collected 10 shots on goal -- five in each half -- and had nine penalty corners. Wilde Lake goalie Nicole Gibson had eight saves.
Heather Davis had six for Glenelg.
Glenelg cashed in on its first opportunity, a penalty corner started by a pass from Beth Terry. Stermer stopped the ball about 12 yards from the cage, wound up and fired a shot past Gibson to make it 1-0.
The insurance goal came after Wilde Lake had failed to convert numerous penalty corners and free hits from just outside Glenelg's striking circle.
Kantowski started the sequence by intercepting a pass and sending the clear across the midfield line. The Gladiators quickly flooded the area just in front of the Wilde Lake goal, causing a penalty by sweeper Rita Szollos, who backed into Gibson, then accidentally fell on the ball with 7:30 left.
Anthony made the penalty shot count with a flick into the upper right corner.