Again the underdogs, Perry Hall girls take on Centennial for title

November 17, 1994|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Special to The Sun

For Perry Hall girls soccer coach Frank Insinga, enough is enough.

"I keep on reading the paper and seeing: 'Perry Hall upsets. . . . Perry Hall upsets,'" said the Gators' first-year coach.

"I'm tired of hearing we're upsetting people. We're in the state final game. We deserve some respect."

Tomorrow night at North County High School, sixth-ranked Perry Hall (12-2) will face No. 3 Centennial in the Class 3A-4A state title game, where the Gators again will play the role of underdogs.

But if their previous playoff opponents didn't respect Perry Hall, they're thinking differently now.

After finishing the regular season 8-2, the Gators started the postseason with a 6-0 win over Parkville, then defeated favored Dulaney, 4-1, C. Milton Wright, 5-4 in a shootout, and Severna Park, 1-0.

The Gators, who last made the finals in 1987 and never have won a state championship, have made believers out of one team after another. They've even surprised Insinga.

"We knew we had a nice team, and we knew we could upset some good people, but we just came along so much," said Insinga, whose 17-player roster includes 14 juniors. "They did real well last year as a sophomore team, but I think we peaked at the right time and other teams peaked too early."

Leading a potent Gators offense -- averaging four goals a game -- are Kerri Siess (15 goals, nine assists), Jessa Phoebus (eight, 14) and striker Bev Campbell (10, 6).

All three have skills that have made Perry Hall hard to defend.

Siess, an outside striker, has one of the area's longest throw-ins, so long in fact, Insinga says his team can play them like corner kicks.

Phoebus, who he calls "the best player on the team," is an All-State halfback who not only possesses a wicked long-range shot, but is unselfish enough to give up the ball and take the assist.

Campbell also is unique in that she scores most of her goals with a header that rates with Baltimore County's best.

"Our front line is extremely quick," said Insinga.

But it's on defense where the Gators truly excel. They've allowed just five goals and recorded nine shutouts.

Led by honorable-mention All-State stopper Susan Fortkiewicz, sweeper Lisa Goddard -- a part-time sprinter -- and goalie Stephanie Koman, Perry Hall has held even the

best offenses in check.

"They've got nice players on their team with a significant amount of experience," said Dulaney coach Kathy Schmidt, whose defending state champion Lions split with Perry Hall this season.

"That's going to go a long way for them."

But even the Gators say they didn't expect to be playing for a state title.

"We never really expected to get past Dulaney," said Koman.

"Every year we beat them in the regular season but lose to them in the playoffs. This year, we didn't even beat them in the regular season, so we figured we'd lose to them again in regions.

"We really never expected to get too far."

Perry Hall will be meeting an undefeated Centennial team that's talented and quick. Insinga said the anticipation of playing the Eagles is the worst part.

"I can't sleep at night," said Insinga, a former Towson State fullback and Perry Hall boys junior varsity coach, who said he's learned a lot in his first year at the helm. "I'm constantly thinking. While I'm laying there, I'm trying to play the game in my mind.

"I feel my job now is not to coach with X's and O's, but to keep their minds set on what they need to do in the game."

And players say they're ready for the task.

"When we beat Dulaney, that was the best game that a lot of us have ever had," said Koman.

"I think if we play like that [tomorrow] we've got the state championship."

And a little respect.

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