As inspirational pep talks go, this one doesn't rate as a classic. But it was effective, nonetheless.
With her team locked in a scoreless tie through one half of yesterday's Class 4A Region IV field hockey final, Severna Park coach Lil Shelton offered some simple, yet pointed, instructions to her players.
"We played a good game up to the half, but we just couldn't score," said Falcons senior Tricia Gately. "Ms. Shelton was like, 'The only thing you have to do is do everything you possibly can to get the ball in the goal.' I guess we just put that into effect in the second half."
Gately poked a loose ball past Broadneck keeper Amy Foster during a melee in front of the goal, then later assisted on another score to lead top-seeded Severna Park to a 2-0 victory over the second-seeded Bruins.
The Falcons (14-0) clinched their sixth straight region championship, and 10th overall. Their quest for a sixth state title continues at 3 p.m.
Wednesday at Goucher College in Towson.
Gately's game-winner came after teammate Kelly Fennessey slapped the ball through a cluster of players packed tightly in front of Foster, who somehow managed to deflect the shot. With Foster now out of position, Severna Park midfielder Shannon Fitzgerald fired a shot toward the cage, but Broadneck defender Kristen Reichardt dropped back to make the save.
Finally, Gately carried through with Shelton's instructions by converting her team's third shot with 12 minutes, 40 seconds left in the game.
"I just pushed until I heard the board slam," Gately said, "and then I knew it was a goal."
Shelton said, "There were no changes we needed to make (at halftime).
They were doing everything right except getting the ball into the goal. And I knew eventually we could get that, because we have good scorers. I have any number of girls who can score."
That included reserve Jennifer Stone, who took a sharp crossing pass from Gately with just over four minutes remaining and easily beat Foster (three saves) from the left side.
"Jen Stone was raring to go all day long," Shelton said. "She was saying, 'I want to score, I want to score.' She hadn't been in 10 minutes and she scored."
Foster didn't have a legitimate chance to prevent either goal -- Bruins coach Phoebe Kelly called them both "well-earned."
Just prior to Stone's conversion, Broadneck (11-2-1) twice pushed the ball deep into Severna Park territory. But the Falcons' Hillary Kuker and Suzanne Leavitt thwarted the respective rushes by quickly getting back on defense.
"I think, basically, they did a good job marking," Kelly said of the Severna Park defenders. "My girls were a little slow on cutting on the ball. They had a couple chances, but Severna Park was just faster than they were. Their defense just out-hustled our offense."
The Bruins, who were beaten by Severna Park, 3-0, during the regular season, were held without a shot-on-goal yesterday.
Kuker enjoyed what Shelton called "the game of her life" in marking Broadneck forward Michelle Leonard, who had four tallies in the Bruins' 5-2 victory over Chesapeake in Tuesday's region semifinal.
"Everybody was so up for this game," Shelton said. "It's important to these girls to be good, to show their skills and to be the best."