Hammond eyes title with an 'odd' twist

November 19, 1993|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

This year, the odds might be in No. 3 Hammond's favor.

The odd-numbered year, that is. In 1989 and 1991, the Golden Bears won state Class 1A-2A girls soccer championships. Tonight at 6, the second-seeded Bears meet No. 7 and top-seeded Loch Raven for the 1993 crown.

But the numbers -- the year, the rankings, the seedings -- won't mean much tonight.

"If there's an edge I don't know what it would be," said Hammond coach Dave Guetler. "We might have an advantage because we've been there before and won. But then they've been there twice in a row and haven't won, so they've got all that desire."

The Bears (12-3) want to strike quickly against the potent Raiders (15-1), who have lost only to unbeaten and No. 1 McDonogh.

"I think it's important to score first," said Guetler. "That's going to be a big thing in this game."

For the Bears, the return of All-Metro striker Kisha Jett certainly will help. Jett, who suffered a sprained ankle three weeks ago, has a few goals but limited playing time so far in the playoffs. Jett, who leads the Bears with 14 goals, is stronger and should see a good bit of action tonight, said Guetler.

At the same time, the Bears' defense, led by sweeper Katy Evans and keeper Amy Nestor, will have to contain Loch Raven's super forward, Robyn Harry. Very fast and lightning quick, Harry can strike in a hurry. She scored in the first 33 seconds of the Raiders' 3-1 semifinal win over Fallston last Friday night.

Other players who could give the Bears trouble include midfielder Bridget Harthausen and freshman sweeper Nicole Froman.

Against Fallston, the Raiders scored all their goals in the first 13:27 of the game. Although the Bears have come from behind before, Guetler does not want his team to fall back early in the final.

"I think we've played well in pressure situations and we've definitely had those this year. McDonogh had us down 2-0 and we came back even though we didn't win," he said. "We were down 1-0 to Fallston and won, and we came back against Wilde Lake. The games in our county are very competitive. Every game is a big game."

Hammond had to beat two Howard County foes for a second time just to make it to the state final four. First, it avenged last year's playoff loss to No. 11 Oakland Mills, which went on to win the title. Next, it edged No. 12 Wilde Lake in the regional final. Last week, the Bears played a sensational second half to beat No. 15 Liberty, 4-2, in the state semifinal.

Like most others, the key to tonight's game, said Guetler, spins in the midfield. With All-Metro Kacy Williams and another talented senior, Liz Bielefeld, sharing the center back spot, the Bears have controlled the midfield often this season.

"Whichever midfield prevails should be able to control the game," said Guetler. "We need to win the 50-50 balls. Loch Raven, from all I've watched them play, they don't quit."

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