1995 All-Metro Field Hockey Team

November 27, 1995

Coach of the Year

Gail Purcell, Centennial, In her 19th season, Purcell guided the Eagles to Howard County's first state field hockey championship. She could not have orchestrated a more dramatic finish for the Class 3A title game as the Eagles stunned then-No. 2 Fallston, 1-0, with 15 seconds left in double overtime. Purcell, who has six county and three regional titles to her credit, called this "the most rewarding season in my coaching career in any sport. I won a state basketball title [in 1981], but it was never like this. These kids never gave up. They had the heart to pull it off." Purcell also called the season the "most stressful" in her career because of the team's slow start (1-2-1). The Eagles, who fell in the state semifinals a year ago, lost their first two games, but steadily built through the season to end up in a tie with Atholton for the Howard County title. Once the playoffs started, the Eagles (11-4-2) never wavered, pulling off three 1-0 upsets, including two in overtime, en route to the state title. First, they knocked off then-No. 4 North Carroll to win the regional final. Then, they edged Magruder in the state semifinals. In their first appearance in the title game, the Eagles ended Fallston's 48-game unbeaten streak on Jenny Silverman's goal just 15 seconds before co-champs would have been declared. The three-game blitz took the Eagles from unranked to No. 7. "They peaked when they needed to," said Purcell, whose career record stands at 157-73-13. "There's never been a season like this."

Player of the Year

Katie Wirth, Fallston, senior, defense: Getting past the Harford County Player of the Year may have been the toughest assignment in field hockey this fall. A three-year veteran of the Olympic Development-style Futures Program, Wirth dominated the middle with perhaps the best ball control in the area as well as outstanding stickwork and game sense. "Katie's so smart defensively," said Cougars coach Alice Puckett. "She's really good at forcing the offensive player to go where she doesn't want to go, so she can make a better tackle. She's good at tackling off stick. Her timing is so good. She's very patient. She's learned that timing through playing on turf in Futures, because on turf, the ball is always on stick." A hard-working center back, the All-State first-team selection anchored the area's stingiest defense. She was the driving force behind a unit that shut out 15 opponents and allowed just two goals all season. With Wirth in the lineup for three years, No. 8 Fallston (16-1) reached the state final three times, won twice and ran up a 48-game unbeaten streak. That streak ended two weeks ago in a 1-0 state Class 3A title-game loss to Centennial in the final 15 seconds of double overtime. A versatile player, Wirth also proved instrumental on transition, distributing the ball and changing fields. She also served as the Cougars' top striker on offensive corners. The two-time All Harford-County selection finished with six goals and five assists.

First team at a glance

Becky Bosley, North Carroll, junior, goalie: There were times when the No. 9 Panthers were simply overmatched on the field, but Bosley's all-around athleticism in goal was their equalizer. Carroll County's top goalie, she was the main reason the Panthers finished 11-4 and reached the regional title game. A two-year starter, Bosley recorded 72 saves and allowed just four goals the entire season. Some of her best work came in the big games, including a 1-0 loss against Westminster in which she made 12 saves. She also had 13 saves in a 1-0 overtime loss to Centennial in the regional final, but she kept the Panthers in that game despite facing 16 Centennial shots and 12 penalty corners.

Ann Brennan, Westminster, senior, attack: The Carroll County Player of the Year and a first-team All-State selection, Brennan had a way of puzzling defenders with her crafty stickwork and relentless work ethic. She owned the left side of the field for the Owls the past three years. The wing was the second-leading scorer for the No. 3 Owls (14-1), who reached the state semifinals. The spark for the Owls' offense, Brennan was an unselfish player as demonstrated by the six assists she had to go with nine goals. The consummate team player, she was willing to do whatever it took to win. A three-year starter, Brennan finished her career with 21 goals and 19 assists.

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