Coach Alice Puckett shows no remorse when she is reminded that her Fallston field hockey team hasn't shared the state Class 2A title with anyone for three years now.
"This isn't a habit, but a tradition," Puckett said with a grin after her Cougars downed James M. Bennett, 1-0, at Goucher College yesterday to win their third straight title.
In truth, Fallston had to work hard for the win, despite scoring the game's only goal just under five minutes into the contest when senior Cindy Hudson banged in a crossing pass from Dawn Bittman.
"I didn't score a goal all season," said Hudson. "I didn't score any last year either. I'm more of an assist player, but today it finally was my turn."
After Hudson's goal, the Cougars' defense was severely tested the rest of the way, especially when keeper Tammy Kloiber had to make a sliding, split save and sit on the ball to keep pesky J.M. Bennett from tying the score with 13 minutes remaining.
"I didn't think the ball was going in the goal, but I had to be sure," said Kloiber, who was whistled for pinning the ball to the ground. That gave J.M. Bennett's Hinke Brinkman a penalty stroke.
"I was relieved as soon as the penalty stroke was called," said Puckett. "I wasn't worried about Tammy facing a penalty stroker. I knew she would stop it." Kloiber wasn't worried either. Brinkman flicked a hard high shot, but Kloiber easily batted it wide to her left to preserve the victory.
In two seasons, Kloiber has never failed to stop a penalty stroke under game conditions, including her heriocs in the shootout of last week's state semifinal victory over Middletown.
Kloiber is only a junior and Puckett said Fallston's JV team lost only two games this season. "We've got a lot of girls coming back and we'll be loaded again next year."
Only two other schools have strung together three straight field hockey championships. Middletown won four straight (1984-87) and Severna Park had three in a row (1979-81).
In the Class 3A championship yesterday, Calvert and Magruder played to a scoreless overtime decision and will share the title.
* In the state Class 2A volleyball tournament semifinals last night at Centennial, Mount Hebron topped defending state champ Atholton, 15-8, 15-11, 15-10, and North East-Cecil downed Douglass (no score available). The winners advance to tTC Saturday's state tournament finals at noon at Catonsville Community College.
In the Class 1A semifinals played at Loch Raven, North Caroline defeated Kent, 15-8, 15-3, 15-6, and Williamsport topped Francis Scott Key, 15-7, 15-7, 15-12. They'll meet for the title at 2:30.
In the Class 3A semifinals at Charles Community College, Northern-Calvert defeated North Carroll, and Rockville downed Catonsville to advance to Saturday's 5 p.m. final.
In the Class 4A semifinals at Watkins Mill, Glen Burnie topped Seneca Valley, 15-12, 15-12, 15-13, and Oxon Hill defeated Springbrook (no score available). They'll meet for the 4A title Saturday at 7:30.