The Fallston defense rests with Haire

October 30, 1994|By Mark Hoeflich | Mark Hoeflich,Contributing Writer

The offense of Fallston's field hockey team has received the most attention, especially last year when the Cougars won their fourth Class 2A state title. But Julie Haire, the senior sweeper for the No. 2 Cougars (12-0, 8-0), never has forgotten her role on defense.

Although the Cougars defense often is overlooked, consider this. Until Fallston gave up a goal three weeks ago against North Harford, opponents were held scoreless for 20 straight games that dated back to early September 1993.

Haire has been the mainstay on the back line for the past two years.

A three-year starter and an All-County and second-team All-Metro selection a year ago, Haire is superb at one-on-one situations, and it was her performance in last season's regional and state playoffs that gave Fallston's defense respect.

"I work with the defense, and I feel that it is overlooked," said coach Alice Puckett. "But Julie was fortunate to get some recognition because of the way she played in the playoffs last year. I feel that if you can't be scored upon, you can't lose and a strong defense builds a strong offense."

In the regional finals a year ago against Loch Raven, Haire proved just how much of an impact player she is. During that game, she broke up numerous scoring chances for the Raiders and turned them into opportunities for the Cougars.

"Any opportunity Loch Raven had she finished off, she had a lot of big plays," said Puckett.

"The pressure, the excitement and the higher level of competition really pushed me in the playoffs," said Haire. "I play better when I have a lot to do, and I like the pressure of having to win."

Haire is used to pressure. She puts a lot on herself every season, and she admitted that she was a little apprehensive about the Cougars defense coming into this season, having to fill a void at goalkeeper.

"Not having a goalkeeper from the beginning, I didn't know what to expect until the first game," said Haire. "Every year I've played, it's been a different team, but you have to adjust yourself to learn what each team is capable of doing."

Haire said that this year there is a lot more talent in front of her, which has made for less work for the defense.

At times this season, Puckett has used Haire on the front line at wing, where she has two assists. Yet despite Haire's interest in playing more on offense, Puckett has a simple reason she doesn't use Haire on attack.

"She makes things kick back there, and I know when she's back there, we are so much better," said Puckett. "She just gets the job done and she has the qualities to play at any spot."

In her first year on varsity as a sophomore, Haire wasn't sure how committed she was to playing field hockey.

Puckett did a lot to change that by inviting Haire and two other players to a scholarship trial early last year that was sponsored by the Baltimore Field Hockey Association. To Haire's surprise, she earned one of the best scholarships to a local camp.

"It gave her the confidence and motivation, and after that weekend she stepped up a level in her play and turned things around for me and her," said Puckett.

"I never really had an interest in field hockey until she [Puckett] took me to the trials," said Haire. "She is very encouraging and supportive, and she made me realize I could do it."

As the Cougars prepare for their quest to repeat as state champions, with the regional playoffs beginning tomorrow, Haire's biggest asset may be her playoff experience.

"I've been there, and now I know what the states are like," said Haire. "From the beginning, I was prepared to keep playing, and I think I've got more composure this year."

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