Centennial, Mount Hebron look to dethrone Glenelg in field hockey

September 13, 1992|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

Ginger Kincaid is used to this. For many of her 15 years as the field hockey coach at Glenelg, Kincaid has started the season with the team everyone else is chasing.

This year is no different. The Gladiators are coming off their seventh county championship with a team experienced at most positions. And once again, Glenelg is the team to beat.

"But I'm not underestimating anyone," Kincaid said. "Centennial is always tough. And [Mount Hebron coach] Jeannette [Ireland] is going to keep bringing out sound hockey. I think we'll do well, but it's going to be tough."

Indeed, Centennial, a perennial contender, figures to bounce back from an 8-6 year and challenge Glenelg. And Hebron, the fastest-improving team in the county, may have arrived. The Vikings are talented enough to win a title.

Oakland Mills, Atholton and Hammond are teams on the verge of contention, while Howard and Wilde Lake are trying to find stability with new coaches.

Here is a look at each team:

Atholton

The Raiders have improved steadily under fourth-year coach Carol Stevens. Last year, they lost three 1-0 games in overtime, and were within a few goals of a winning season.

Will they make up for their lapses on the attack? That will determine what kind of fall the Raiders have.

In the meantime, defense is still the name of their game. Agatha Davis returns to the goal, where she averaged seven saves last year. And Joy Gilbert and Katie Walter return to start for the third consecutive season at halfback. Kim Gaeta will start at sweeper.

Four returning starters -- seniors Carey Long, Laden Tankut and Laura Meyers and junior Nikki Auclair -- will largely dictate how productive Atholton will be at the other end of the field. Long looks like the top scoring threat.

"In recent years, I've played at practice, and I've run circles around them," Stevens said. "I can't do that anymore. These kids are getting better. Their skills have really improved since last year."

Centennial

The Eagles lost the heart of their defense to graduation in sweeper Laure Kaylor and goalie Meghan Carr, both four-year, All-County players. Replacing them will be a top priority, and 16-year coach Gail Purcell thinks senior goalie Lisa Stichler and junior sweeper Erin Marchisa are the answers. Marchisa is one of the top players moving up from the JV.

Centennial hopes to improve on last year's 8-6 record with a nice blend of experienced players. Seniors Keri Chichester and Susan Wallace return to start at halfback. Senior Jenny Yoo and junior Katrina Wolfe return to start at link. Senior Amber Saunders returns to start at forward.

Purcell is still filling in the rest of the blanks, particularly on the front line, where the Eagles have to answer their most glaring questions. Purcell has also decided to carry only 14 players in order to maximize playing time and development. Judging by the early returns, she thinks the Eagles are in for a strong year.

"We won't win games unless we spend more time on the attack than we did last year," Purcell said. "This is a versatile, thinking team. Ninety percent of them went to hockey camp over the summer, and there is real excitement with this group. We were delighted with their skills from the first day of practice."

Glenelg

Few programs could replace 17 goals that graduated with two of their top players. Glenelg will. They've replaced talent successfully for years, and the defending county champions will go for their eighth league title under Kincaid with another senior-laden roster.

The first order of business will be generating offense, now that big scorers Katie Stermer and Jen Anderson are gone. Enter senior forwards Heather Inkman and Melanie Richardson, two part-time players last year who are expected to shoulder the offensive load.

"Our seniors have a way of coming through, especially after sitting [on the bench] as juniors," Kincaid said. "Some of the kids who played behind the starters last year look just as strong this year."

Seniors Rebecca Ford (forward), Christina Marchetti (halfback), Lory Wineman (halfback) and Trish Slater (sweeper) all move into starting roles for the first time. Slater's adjustment is probably the most critical, since she will be teaming with returning goalie Kristen Turner (six saves a game, 10 goals surrendered) to form the heart of the defense.

Kincaid is counting on Slater enough that she decided to move Hoffman from sweeper to center halfback. Returning starting links Charlotte Cockrell and Lisa Roscoe add stability to the middle, while Amy Dutra returns to start on the front line.

The Gladiators have talent, balance and winning tradition on their side. They remain the team to beat.

Hammond

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