Field hockey can be a maddening exercise.
Just ask Hammond High School coach Gay Petrlik, who during the young season has watched her Golden Bears produce countless encouraging moments that have been rubbed out by the bottom line.
Petrlik saw the Bears give homestanding, highly-touted, 4A power Dulaney quite a tussle Thursday. During lengthy stretches, Hammond clearly outplayed their Baltimore County counterparts.
But after Jennifer Kenny's first-half goal stood up for a 1-0 Dulaney victory, Hammond was left searching for its first victory of the season.
"I'd have to give them (the Bears) an A minus -- an A for their play and aminus for the loss," said Petrlik, whose Bears fell to 0-1-1. Hammond tied John Carroll (Harford County), 1-1, in its season opener.
"My kids are looking good. They know they are playing some good teams," added Petrlik, noting Dulaney (1-1) entered the game ranked seventhin the Baltimore metropolitan area.
"I just hope we're not setting some kind of precedent. I'd hate to see their season be one frustration after another."
Petrlik has been more excited about the Bears' prospects this year than any Hammond team in recent memory. Thursday's effort, while raising her frustration, did little to lower her high expectations.
After falling behind with 16 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first half, Hammond regrouped and put on an impressive attack for the half's final nine minutes.
During that span, the Dulaney offense went dormant, while the Bears earned three penalty corneropportunities and sent five shots at Dulaney goalie Christie Kenney.
The results were tough to stomach. One close shot by forward Deanna Guiterrez glanced off Kenney's knee in front of the cage. Kenney smothered another hard ground shot by center halfback Erin Beerman. She then registered a tough kick save on the Bears' final penalty corner of the half.
Hammond went into halftime having outshot Dulaney, 6-3, while allowing the Lions just one penalty corner. But Kenney's six saves kept the lead intact.
Both teams came out sharp on offense in the second half, when it was time for both goalies to shine.
Hammond's Jill Farrow made seven of her nine saves in the second half. Kenney made six more to record a game-high 12 saves.
"The team communicated well. We're getting the ball in there (the scoring circle) and we're getting a lot of shots," Petrlik said.
"Sometimes, though, we're pulling back and trying to set up the perfect shot. We've got to shoot quicker, be more spontaneous."
Hammond's frustration peaked in the game's final five minutes, when they pretty much lived in the scoring circle at the Dulaney end.
Kenney turned one shot into a kick save. Two more shots were intercepted in front of Kenney by defenders Katie Coelho and Karen Crowley. And with less than a minute left, Erin Beerman's free hit sailed wide to the right.
The Bears outshot Dulaney, 12-10.