The field hockey schedule-makers have set up a perennial season-ending showdown, pitting Fallston against Bel Air in the final league game.
Last year, Fallston (12-3-1) topped the Bobcats (13-2) to win the county title. Bel Air won the title in 1989 in the finale. The drama should be no less exciting this year.
After a couple of weeks of non-league play, Fallston and Bel Air have shown that they are the teams to beat in Harford County. Both were undefeated going into last Friday's games. And, both will be heavily favored to win their league openers this week -- Fallston against Aberdeen Wednesday and Bel Air at Edgewood Friday.
Fallston was 3-0 after wins over John Carroll, Oakland Mills and Perryville. The Cougars, three-time defending state Class 2A champs, were ranked No. 10 in the Metro area in The Sun's latest field hockey poll.
The Bobcats, ranked No. 2 in The Sun poll behind Severna Park, were 4-0 going into last Friday's game with Havre de Grace. Already, Bel Air has beaten Dulaney, Centennial, Howard and Glenelg, outscoring them, 10-1.
If anyone is going to spoil the big plans of the top two, it will most likely be C. Milton Wright (8-5 last year). The Mustangs split with Fallston last year, and Coach Kathy Breymaier's squad returns a lot of experience.
Joppatowne could pull an upset as well, while North Harford will be pushing to get into the top four. The remaining teams, Aberdeen, Edgewood and Havre de Grace, are still a step away from the top four, although each has shown some improvement.
For Fallston, the pressure is on. The Cougars' veterans want to finish off their high school careers with a state title for each of their four years. But this time, it may be harder than ever to win.
The Cougars have dropped to Class 1A after winning three straight titles in Class2A. The change has put Fallston in probably the toughest region of Class 1A. Not only does the region include archrival Joppatowne, but it also includes Rising Sun, a team that has outscored Joppatowne, Havre de Grace and Aberdeen by a combined total of 14-0.
"Our region this year is tougher," said Coach Alice Puckett. "We always have a tough time with Joppatowne, and some of the rest of the teams are better. The Baltimore County teams in our old region were never that good.We play Bel Air and C. Milton in the county, and they were much better."
Although the Cougars lost seven starters to graduation, they still return a lot of strength, especially on defense. The cornerstone of the defense is All-Metro goalie Tammy Kloiber, who can keep the Cougars in the game almost single-handedly.
Kloiber will get a lotof help from strong sweeper Amy French, as well as veteran halfbacksDawn Howell, Jeanna Marzulla and Kristin Bauersfeld. Link Molly Marshall will also help out on defense.
At Bel Air, the offense is booming. Michelle Thomas, Jill Schultz and Michelle Bowen are among the most aggressive forwards in the county, and they'll do just about anything to score.
The Bobcats also look strong at midfield, with AmySullivan probably the top link in the county. Defensively, the Bobcats also have a strong goalie in Beth Dail as well as top halfbacks inShelley Paradise and Danielle Newell.
Last year, the Bobcats wentall the way to the Class 3A state semifinal game where they lost to Magruder on sudden-death penalty strokes.
As determined as the 11 Fallston seniors are to win the county title, the 10 Bobcats seniors are just as determined to win. That should set up a battle for the season finale at Bel Air on Oct. 23.