Centennial foiled by Leonardtown keeper

November 10, 1994|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Sun Staff Writer

Only one person stood between No. 3 Centennial and its first trip to the state field hockey final -- Leonardtown keeper Katie Jackson.

Under constant pressure for the last 16 minutes of the game, Jackson made several spectacular saves to preserve a 1-0 win for her Raiders (14-0-1) in a state Class 3A semifinal yesterday at Goucher College.

"We did everything we could to get a goal," said Eagles midfielder Liz Sturm. "That goalie was incredible. Without a doubt, she won the game for them. The whole second half we were down there, corner after corner."

The Eagles (14-1) had 10 penalty corners and outshot the Raiders 10-2 in the second half, but it was Jackson's show.

As Centennial began its barrage, Jackson made a terrific split save on the edge of the cage to deny Allison Altscher. Emily Ward caught the rebound and fired just beyond the far post.

With eight minutes to go, Jackson dove to hold off Ward. But her most dramatic effort came in the final 30 seconds when Ward fired another bullet headed just inside the post. Jackson dove to deflect the ball away with her stick.

"When you're the goalie, the ball gets about this big," said Jackson spreading her hands to the size of a basketball, "and that's all you see. It's second nature to me to go down

to stop it. [Ward] had a hard shot. God was with me today."

Ward, a breakaway artist with 17 goals, took seven strong shots in the half. Jackson, who recorded her 11th shutout, stopped five.

"She is the toughest offensive player we've been against," said Leonardtown coach Denise Shaw. "Her stickwork, her speed, her attack -- everything. We could see as soon as we started she was dominating. They were constantly sending the ball to her. She was constantly dribbling the ball down."

The Raiders marked Ward, but their defense could not contain her. Only the slow field stopped the Eagles from getting the jump on Leonardtown in the first half.

"This field killed us," said Centennial coach Gail Purcell, of the thick grass. "Our forte is fast -- cherry picker go. Nail it and go. Liz was the only one who could get the ball going."

Leonardtown dominated early and Kerri Duke scored her 32nd goal of the season with 16:31 to go before halftime. Andrea Long crossed the ball to her with Eagles keeper Becca Armiger coming out to play it.

In addition to her four saves, Armiger upset the Raiders' offense at least three other times by coming out to aggressively play the ball in the circle.

Although the season ended one game short of the Eagles' goal, they did match the best record in school history. Only the 1982 team that also reached the state semifinal had a 14-1 record.

"I'm just really proud of them," said Purcell, whose team won the Howard County title. "Once again, they rose to the occasion and showed they are champions. Whether they won or lost here, those kids are champion kids."

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