Armiger, Centennial capture state title Goalie's 26 saves stop No. 2 Fallston

3A field hockey

November 12, 1995|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Field hockey history was made yesterday at Goucher College. Becca Armiger was the reason.

The Centennial goalie, playing with a passion that carried her to 26 saves, many of them sensational, led the No. 15 Eagles to a 1-0 double-overtime upset of No. 2 Fallston for the class 3A state title. It was the first time in four attempts that a Howard County team won a field hockey championship.

Jenny Silverman scored for the Eagles (11-4-2) with 15 seconds remaining, giving coach Gail Purcell her first state title in 19 years. It was only the sixth Centennial shot of the game, and only the second goal Fallston goalie Julie Clark has allowed all season.

"I was ready to settle for 0-0, but to have it to ourselves is a lot better," said Armiger. "Fallston's been here before and I think they thought all they had to do was walk on the field and win. But we proved otherwise. This is the best game we've played."

Fallston (16-1) entered the game as the two-time defending class 2A state champions with a three-year record of 46-0-2. The Courgars played very well yesterday, taking 27 shots. But Armiger played better.

"I think we played a great game," said Fallston coach Alice Puckett. "We had some nice shots, but she [Armiger] had a phenomenal game. She was just awesome."

Armiger just wouldn't be denied. She was all over, making sliding save after sliding save as if they were routine. Whenever Fallston looked like it finally was going to score -- and there were many times -- Armiger was there to kick the ball away.

"She played as if she was on attack," said Purcell, who said Fallston was the most aggressive team her squad has faced this season. "She was phenomenal. She was the single individual that allowed us the chance to score the goal."

Said Armiger: "I was really having a bad year. I wanted to do this for the team and myself. I did surprise myself [with her play]. I'm glad I had a game like this today."

Both teams had opportunities to score in the first overtime when each team has six field players and a goalie. Purcell said she played for the win in the first overtime, but changed her strategy in the second.

"We were playing for the tie at that point," Purcell said. "It's better to be part of a championship then none at all."

But Silverman had other ideas.

"We knew the clock was on the field," said Silverman, who faced Clark from the left side and fired the shot past her into the right corner of the cage. "I was just looking for some open space and I guess I got it. I've dreamed about this, but I never thought it would happen. We worked so hard for this. I'm so glad we have it to ourselves."

On Friday, Purcell had given her players T-shirts with the word "believe" in big, red capital letters. They wore them under their uniforms.

"I told them when we win, the shirts [uniforms] come off."

And that's exactly what happened, as the players celebrated with friends and family under a rainy sky that only showered them with joy.

Purcell said she felt Centennial, which was 14-0 last year before losing in the state semifinals, had been labeled as a team that "couldn't win the big one."

"We broke that," Purcell said. "We needed this to get the respect that we deserve."

And as far as being the first county field hockey team to win a state title.

"It's sweet," Purcell said. "I think it's the beginning. I think you'll see a lot of other county teams win state titles. We were just lucky to be the first."

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