Franklin ends hex in playoffs

November 04, 1992|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

Franklin's field hockey team ended a four-year Harford County jinx with a 2-1 victory over second-seeded Bel Air in a Class 3A, Region III semifinal yesterday.

The Indians (7-4-1) had suffered four straight 1-0 regional-playoff losses to Harford County teams, including three to Bel Air. Yesterday, the third-seeded Indians, scored twice -- once early and again in the final two minutes to upset the host Bobcats (8-4-1).

"We knew we had to score early and play our game," said forward Noelle Mendola, who scored both Franklin goals. "We play a more controlled passing game and they're a hit-and-run team. The ball wasn't moving that fast today [after Monday's rain], so I think that helped us."

Both of Mendola's goals came on loose balls in front of the goal -- the first three minutes into the game. Several Indians played the ball on the right and sent it across in front of the cage. Mendola, cherry picking on the left post, pulled the ball back and pushed it into the cage behind Bel Air goalie Laura Casey.

After an evenly played first half, Bel Air dominated the initial 20 minutes of the second half. A constant midfield surge led by Amy Rafalski and Caryn Gural kept the Bobcats (8-4-1) within striking distance.

They outshot Franklin, 9-1, and had six penalty corners in the first 20 minutes. Only an excellent Indians defense, led by Mary Beth Francis and Courtney Paulsen, held off the Bobcats.

Eight minutes into the half, Bel Air almost tied the game on a penalty stroke after Indians keeper Angie Castro blocked the ball on the ground with her body. Rafalski shot shoulder high, but Castro reached up to bat away the well-placed effort.

Bel Air kept pressing and, with 6:35 left, Gural scored on a top-of-the-circle shot off a penalty corner.

Franklin bounced back quickly with two penalty corners and three shots. With two minutes to go, Ana Cherio sent a corner pass into the circle and Mendola waited on the far post to repeat her first-half act.

The Bobcats, who suffered an injury-plagued year, had lost only one-goal games to three ranked teams during the regular season. They especially missed midfielder Cathy Adams, sidelined with a knee injury.

"It's been tough patching together a team," said Bel Air coach Phyllis Hemmes, whose squad last won the regional title in 1990.

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