Game will have new look, with old contenders Rule interpretation should lead to more scoring, fewer zones 1993 high school field hockey preview

September 09, 1993|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Contributing Writer

The year in field hockey looks like the same old story with a different twist.

While many of the same teams that challenged for titles in Baltimore County and the Association of Independent Schools last season are expected to do so again, a new interpretation of an old rule could shake things up a bit.

A new take on the obstruction rule is expected to remove the glut of defenders from around the goal and open up the field, allowing for higher scoring and more exciting games.

The interpretation, which says the defense now must attempt to play the ball rather than sit back in a zone, will benefit teams with better speed and stick-handling skills.

Melba Williams, in her 29th year of coaching at Dulaney, says players will go through a period of adjustment.

"[The game] may be a little rougher, with more pushing, early in the season," said Williams, who has 10 players -- six of them starters -- returning from last year's Baltimore County co-champions. "But eventually, once they get used to it, it'll make the game more exciting and create more scoring `f opportunities."

Leading the way in the AIS A Division will be defending champion Roland Park and runner-up Friends. Both should be in the thick of things once again, but could be challenged by McDonogh, Garrison Forest, Notre Dame Prep, St. Paul's and Bryn Mawr.

For Roland Park, 2-0 winner over Friends in last year's title game, this year's team could be even better than the one that went 11-0-2 in 1992.

Leading the way are All-Metro links Peggy Boutilier and Brent McCallister.

Boutilier, a senior, is one of the best female athletes in the area. Last year, she used her breakaway speed and impeccable stickwork to make the U.S. Olympic Festival team and was also an All-American in lacrosse.

McCallister, also a senior, used her great stickwork and skills to score both goals in last year's AIS championship game.

Together, Boutilier and McCallister make up the best midfield in the area and give Roland Park the edge to repeat in its division.

"We have no real weak spots," said Reds coach Debbie Bloodsworth. "We have 10 returning players, so that should make us at least as strong as last year."

The main competition in the A Division is expected to come from runner-up Friends and third-place McDonogh.

Friends (10-2-2 last season) lost six starters and could lag early in the season while younger players get acclimated with the system.

"We'll get better with time," said coach Carol Samuels. "We want to build in each game and point toward the end of the season."

Defense was the team's strength last year, when it recorded five shutouts, but this year it's the question mark. The Friends' defense is basically new, but Samuels says the JV call-ups are strong and should do an adequate job.

McDonogh is in far worse shape than Friends. The Eagles graduated 12 from their 10-2-3 team of a year ago and seem headed for a rebuilding year.

But McDonogh still will have a strong defense, and with any kind of offense could be a factor.

Also in the hunt will be Garrison Forest (5-2-5) and its potent offense, St. Paul's with its depth, Notre Dame Prep (2-7-3) with its exciting group of seniors and Bryn Mawr (5-4-2) with its strong midfield and defense.

In the B Division, St. Timothy's and Park, last year's champion and runner-up, respectively, should battle for the top spot again.

St. Timothy's (8-2-4), double-overtime winner in last year's final, returns half its team, including forward Gillian Schreiber, who scored the game-winning goal in the semifinals and finals last year.

Coach Janet Powers said her team will score goals, but that the question will be the defense.

For Park (8-1-2), questions include: Will the loss of the Bruins' top scorer and goalkeeper throw their lineup into disarray, and will the many JV call-ups fill in adequately?

No such questions exist at Loch Raven, where the defending Class 2A state champions look to be on a track back to the playoffs. The team lost just three seniors, and with the return of All-Metro attacker Lauren Volk, and top goalie Cho Toung, derailing the Raiders (14-0-2 a year ago) could be a tough chore.

"With a little practice and a little luck, we can get there again," said coach Gina Hormes.

Challenging Loch Raven in the Baltimore County 2A-1A League will be Patapsco, Hereford (with nine players returning from a 7-3 campaign) and up-and-comers Towson and Pikesville.

The 3A-4A League should boil down to Perry Hall, Dulaney, Kenwood and Franklin, which went a combined 31-11-5 last season.

Perry Hall and Franklin both advanced to last year's regional final, but each return only three starters and will be relying on inexperienced reserves and JV call-ups to fill in the gaps.

Kenwood has some rebuilding to do after losing nine players. But with a strong attack, second-year coach Karen Spicer could guide the Bluebirds to the playoffs.

Baltimore County co-champion Dulaney looks to be the early front-runner. With six returning starters, mainly on defense, the Lions will make their opponents work to score goals. Last year, Dulaney played eventual state champion Loch Raven three times, holding the Raiders to three goals in a loss and two ties.

If the Lions can score, watch out.

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