For the past few years, Edgewood's field hockey team has measured progress in small doses. But Wednesday the Rams served themselves a heaping spoonful of success.
By upsetting Joppatowne, 2-1, the Rams improved their overall record to 2-3. Already, they have as many wins as in the past two seasons combined.
"This is a very big win for us," said sophomore midfielder Lisa Fotia. "It gives us a more positive attitude that we can win more games this season."
Earlier in the season, the Rams realized how much they had improved when they posted a 1-0 win over Howard County's Oakland Mills. Last season, Oakland Mills hammered Edgewood, 6-0.
TheRams' transformation began over the summer when 10 players attended the Merestead camp at Ursinus College northwest of Philadelphia, one of the premier field hockey and lacrosse camps in the Northeast. Boththe girls and Coach Renda Respess said lessons learned at the camp have made a tremendous difference in the team.
"We have a lot of returning players, and camp helped us a lot," said junior sweeper NikkiChmura. "It helped us improve our skills and taught us more about the game."
As a result, the Rams are better not only at the basic skills but also at the mental aspects of the game. They have become more aggressive on the ball. They finish off their plays and cover for each other.
Against Joppatowne, the Rams got off to a quick start, as Shelly Marzicola scored to give Edgewood a 1-0 lead less than eight minutes into the game.
"Getting that first goal made a big difference," said Respess. "It made them more confident that they could win. I was pleased that our attack was really moving."
The Rams struck quickly again in the second half. Marzicola fed Karin Blackburn for a 2-0 lead just four minutes into the half.
The Mariners had several opportunities to tie the game in the first half, but the Rams' defense upset every attempt. Especially strong performances came from Fotia, Chmura and left back Kelly Rider. The entire defense, including Lisa Wilcox, Jackie Kinsey, Jenni Blubaugh and Tobea Cobb, worked well as a unit.
"We've been working a lot on talking," said Chmura."I heard everybody communicating a lot more in this game than in other games."
Joppatowne finally got on the board with 23:38 left in the second half. Amy Gehring and Lisa Aquino beat the Rams' defense on a fast break. Gehring sent a pass from the left side of the circle to Aquino, who slipped it in.
Aquino, a four-year veteran, was allover the field for the Mariners, playing solid defense and pushing the ball up to the attack. But the Mariners seemed disjointed around the striking circle.
Even though they were in the Class 1A state final four a year ago, the Mariners have had a tough season this year. They've opened with a 1-4 record that has baffled Coach Pam Reich.
"I've got talent on this team. I've got speed on this team. I've gotfour-year players. We're playing the midfield excellent. From 25 (yard line) to 25, we change positions, we move the ball well. But when we get inside the 25 on either end, I don't know what we're doing."
For the Rams, who last went to the Class 2A regional playoffs in 1987, most of the toughest contests are yet to come. But the Rams will take their new-found confidence into each game, said Chmura.
"Lastyear, when we went into the Fallston game or the C. Milton Wright game, we said, 'Oh, well. They're gonna beat us.' This year, we're going to fight for us. We're not going to let anybody beat us."