Make no mistake: It is tradition that drives the mental part of the Fallston field hockey program. And when the physical part is as good as this year's team, good things happen.
Pam Gauss scored two minutes into yesterday's state Class 2A championship game and a stout defense keyed by sweeper Julie Haire made it stand up for a rainy 1-0 victory over Parkside (11-4-1) at Goucher College yesterday.
Except for a just-wide shot by Susan Mackley in the second half, Gauss' shot was really the only scoring opportunity for the Cougars. Parkside of Wicomico County had one flurry with about three minutes left, but some aggressive defense by Haire ended with her swatting the ball out of danger.
Each keeper was credited with one save, Fallston senior Jenny Smith had hers in the first half. "The ball was on the line and I made sure I kicked it out," Smith said of her play.
This turned out to be her 13th consecutive shutout, 15th overall in a 14-0-2 season in which she allowed only two goals.
Gauss, who had the goal in Monday's 1-0 semifinal win over Liberty, described the game-winner.
"I saw Katie [Wirth] at the top of the circle and I thought that it had looked the same way Monday," said Gauss, a senior forward. "I'm not sure how it happened -- I made a cut, saw the ball, and just swung wildly at it. I saw it go past the goalie -- it was by inches."
Gauss also spoke of the tradition.
"You go in our gym and see those three state championship banners hanging there and you want to be a part of something like that. We believed we could do it," she said.
At the end of the game, the players got T-shirts printed with "state champions" and "Continuing a tradition."
Over the last six years, coach Alice Puckett has guided teams to four state titles, four regional titles and six Harford County titles.
Overall, Fallston played much better than it had in its semifinal, combining sharper passing with more aggressive defense.
It was an all-out struggle between the 25-yard lines, and Fallston, led by sophomore links Wirth, Rachel Simon and Barbara Ordes, dominated the middle. Simon, in particular, did an excellent job of challenging opposing players.
Still, this was a game where everybody contributed. There was scoring, a solid midfield and Puckett continued with the same backs who have played without substitution for the last three weeks -- Haire, Judy Simon, Jen Drsbo and Amy Bauersfeld. All are seniors but Haire.
"That's just a great defense in front of me," Smith said.