Seasoned soccer player snowed out Buried: Stephanie Petterson, a senior sweeper for Notre Dame Prep, was enjoying her final winter soccer season until the blizzard brought it to an abrupt end.

January 14, 1996|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Only a blizzard could keep Stephanie Petterson off the soccer field.

A little snow, a little ice? No problem. But two feet of snow? That's too much even for the Notre Dame Prep senior.

"I think this might be the end of the season," said Petterson regretfully, after four years -- as weather permitted -- of AIS outdoor winter soccer.

Now, she has to wait a few weeks until her club team, the Under-19 Baltimore Football Club, begins its indoor season.

Still, there's nothing quite like playing soccer outdoors in winter when field conditions usually pose an obstacle greater than the opposing team.

"Playing on the ice and snow is a lot harder," said Petterson. "Ball control is so tough. You're slipping all around and trying to kick the ball. It's so funny sometimes. The Friday before Christmas, it was pouring down rain and I ran and kicked the ball and fell in a puddle of mud."

The cold temperatures and slick fields would seem to be enough to drive away serious players like Petterson, but at NDP, the entire fall team plays in the winter.

The athletes can't pass up the chance to play their favorite sport in a more relaxed atmosphere, said Petterson, whose Pirates played their first fall schedule two years ago.

"In the winter, it's not as serious as fall. We went into fall and realized it was a totally different game," said Petterson.

But the Pirates obviously were ready for their Catholic League debut this year. They finished 13-0-1 and won the B Division title.

Petterson earned All-Baltimore City/County and All-Catholic League honors for anchoring the defense at sweeper.

"She really was the boss back there," said coach John Cusson, whose Pirates move into the Catholic League's A Division next fall.

"Stephanie's always had really good skills and great speed. Even when she was a freshman, she was just so smooth, but she was very shy. She's matured to become a real leader."

Playing fullback for her club team has helped Petterson develop almost flawless defensive instincts that, combined with her speed and dominant left foot, give her an edge on the opposition.

Cusson, who has coached her in fall and winter, said she's a natural defender.

"That goes along with her personality," said Cusson. "She doesn't crave the glory. She's just an incredibly steady player. She'll do anything to help the team."

Petterson does the same in lacrosse, earning a second-team All-Baltimore City/County selection as well as AIS All-Star status with the Pirates last spring.

A former Olympic Development Program player, Petterson plans play soccer in college, but her priority is academics.

"I'm going into physical therapy, so that limits my choices," she said, "but playing soccer is still a big part of it."

Petterson, who carries a 3.9 grade-point average and works part time for a physical therapist, has narrowed her list to a handful of Division II and III colleges.

L Cusson said that Petterson could hold her own at Division I.

"Stephanie has the ability to play up there with the best kids," said Cusson, "but if she had wanted to go to a North Carolina or something, she would have to have gone to a program like McDonogh and stayed with the whole [ODP] state team thing, but she has other interests. She did the best thing for her."

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