Field hockey hopes: so high, dashed so fast


November 09, 1994|By BILL FREE

The election eve blitz.

It occurred at Goucher College Monday and tore through the hearts of proud Carroll County field hockey fans.

In a little more than three hours, three Carroll field hockey teams were wiped out of the state tournament semifinals.

It was a first for a county that has won more state championships (15) than any other county in the 20-year history of the tournament.

In 1990, Liberty, Westminster and Francis Scott Key lost in the semifinals of the states, but the Liberty setback occurred two days after the Key and Westminster losses. The extra two days lessened the impact of the blows.

This year's 200-minute nightmare began with 2A North Carroll falling in double overtime, 1-0, to defending state champion Fallston, continued with 1A Francis Scott Key getting handled easily by Pocomoke, 3-0, and concluded with a 2-1 overtime defeat for 4A Westminster to Northern of Calvert County.

The Key loss was easier to take because Pocomoke was certainly the better team on that day.

The North Carroll setback was much harder to deal with because the Panthers had an excellent chance to win it in the first overtime on a fast break that was stopped by a brilliant defensive play by Fallston's Carrie Grable.

Also, it was a sudden end to fine careers for Panther seniors Jill Ballard, Amber Bosley, Laurie Kreseski, Laura Kenney and Beth Moore.

Ballard, the 1993 Carroll Player of the Year, Bosley, Kreseski, Kenney and Moore expected a better fate than the ill fortune they had three straight years in the regionals and state tournament.

This was certainly a talented group of field hockey players that looked as if it was destined to win a state championship in either their junior or senior years.

The stinging loss to Fallston was also the final game for North Carroll seniors Mary Ann Oldani, Rachel Hare, Jennifer Richards and Ariel Close.

For Westminster, it was the kind of defeat that probably will linger for several years in the minds of the players, their parents and the team's coaches, Sue Hooper and Brenda Baker.

In their combined 40 years of coaching, Hooper and Baker said they never had a team dominate an opponent so completely and still lose.

Westminster outshot Northern, 27-4, and had a 23-2 advantage in penalty corners. The law of averages says a team probably should score at least five goals with those kind of opportunities.

Several times, the Owls simply rained a barrage of shots on the Northern goal but somehow came away empty-handed. It was almost as if a black cloud were hanging over Westminster's heads or an imaginary wall was in front of the goal.

VTC When Northern used one of its four shots for the entire game to score the winner, the Westminster players fell to the ground in despair, grief and disbelief.

When they recovered enough to surround their veteran coaches in the huddle for about 15 minutes, the tears flowed amid the obvious questions of "how could this happen to us?"

Hooper said: "The players wanted to blame themselves for the loss. But it wasn't their fault. They all played a super game. We couldn't have played any better. We deserved to win but didn't. What can you say when you've done all you can and the ball just won't go in the cage?"

If there was any solace in this defeat for the Owls, it is the fact that 15 players from the team will be back next season.

However, that doesn't help the four seniors who will never get another chance to win a state high school field hockey championship.

Those are the four girls whose tears had to sting the most.

They are Kristy Matthai, the team's leading scorer with 17 goals and four assists; Carrie Herb, who was in the middle of a lot of good things that happened for Westminster this season; Christine Mace, who played marvelous defense all season, and goalkeeper Andrea Kirby, who had an outstanding season.

There is no question that the sight of the Westminster players huddled around their two coaches after such a bitter loss was a touching scene.

Here was a talented group of athletes who felt they had let themselves and their school down by losing, and in the middle of them were two women trying their best to console them.

All year long, the Westminster players talked about how closely knit their team was and how everybody pulled for each other to do well.

That long huddle was certainly proof that those were not idle words.

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