Goalie saves another perfect season for Severna Park Falcons win 4th straight title with 1-0 victory

Field hockey

November 12, 1995|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Severna Park field hockey is still perfect after all these years, thanks in large part to a tiny goalkeeper named Laura Snider.

Snider, 5-foot-2 and 90 pounds, was the smallest player on the field yesterday when two giants of the game (Severna Park and Walt Whitman) locked up in an intense, all-out duel for the state Class 4A championship at Goucher College.

But she saved the day for the Falcons with five super kick saves in the final 15 minutes, allowing Severna Park to hold off Whitman for a 1-0 victory and travel to unheard of heights in the 21-year history of the state field hockey tournament.

Top-ranked Severna Park (18-0) has won 54 straight games, an unprecedented four straight 4A state titles and a state-leading total of nine championships overall.

These athletes have been living with this streak every day for the past three months and they haven't been allowed to talk about it by coach Lil Shelton for fear of jinxing themselves or losing focus.

"After all that celebrating on the field, some of our girls even danced in the parking lot when we got to the bus," said Shelton. "This was something special for a bunch of great girls who are so close and caring for each other. The girls who were crying are our seniors who hate to give this experience up."

Two seniors, Sarah Horn and Ani Mason, teamed up for the only goal on a perfectly executed play with 1:02 remaining in the first half.

Mason ran past a Whitman defender to catch up to a ball that was headed out of bounds, and she sent a pass to Horn who was open just six feet from the goal.

Horn knocked the ball into the cage against a Whitman defense that apparently had let up a little thinking the ball was going out of bounds.

It was a most emotional day for defender Becky Shank who ended her four-year career at Severna Park without a loss.

Shank was called up from the junior varsity right after the team's last loss to Queen Anne's in 1992 and has been a part of 54 straight wins.

The last 18 of those victories have all been tough for Shank as she has battled to overcome the effects of a knee operation.

The streak and four-peat chants were placed in jeopardy down the stretch yesterday when Whitman (14-2) started raining shot after shot on Snider.

But Snider, who has been overshadowed by a high-scoring offense all season long, never cracked under the pressure of the Whitman assault that was led by forward Zelenda Welch.

Snider stood tall, kicking away the five shots, twice having to reject back-to-back shots by the Vikings.

"It was a lot of fun," said Snider, who shared goal-keeping duties with fellow junior Amy Matthieu most of the season before going all the way in four playoff games. "I love it when they keep sending the shots at me. That way I can be into the game more."

Assistant Severna Park coach Sue Behringer said: "Laura was focused. That is the way she stays no matter what the score is."

Sophomore defender Krista Bowerman also had a strong day, knocking away two Whitman shots before they could get to Snider. And senior Melissa Reynolds continued to play well on defense.

In all, this game once again showed what makes Severna Park tick year after year in a sport where a lack of luck has sent more than one good team down to defeat in a state title games.

Luck or a lack of it evened out yesterday for both teams.

However, the goal scored by Horn off the pass from Mason was the result of a "squares drill" that Shelton sends her team through every day in practice.

"We run squares 20 to 50 minutes every day," said Mason. "That helps us cover the field a lot better and that was the reason I was able to get to the ball before it went out of bounds. I just sent it over to Sarah."

"And I just whacked the ball in the goal," said Horn.

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