For streaking Severna Park, beat goes on and on Falcons aim to build on 54 straight victories

Local Sports: High School Field Hockey Preview

August 29, 1996|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

An unsuspecting Arundel field hockey coach Clint Gosnell walked into a county coaches' meeting a couple of weeks ago and almost immediately was asked if this was his year to end Severna Park's renowned winning streak that has grown to 54 games.

Before Gosnell could answer, Southern coach Carolyn Knowles said, "No it's my year to do it."

Knowles and Severna Park coach Lil Shelton both laughed and Gosnell didn't want to talk about it for fear of putting too much pressure on his team.

Which team might put it all together one day this season and knock off the vaunted Falcons?

Could it be the Arundel Wildcats who came the closest to beating Severna Park last year in the Class 4A South quarterfinals?

Arundel had two breakaway opportunities to score and win in the first overtime period last season and squandered both of them before losing, 1-0, when Athena Mahoney scored later in the first overtime for Severna Park.

Will it be longtime rival Chesapeake and its veteran coach of 20 years Jerry Raab?

Maybe a loaded St. Mary's team will rise up and grab the brass ring with a win over the Falcons.

Or possibly a very good Severn team could catch Severna Park a little off guard in the season-opener Sept. 5 and pull off a monumental upset.

Archbishop Spalding is also capable of shocking a powerful opponent such as Severna Park. Just ask St. Mary's, which has lost to the Cavaliers the past two seasons.

And there is always a possibility of a county school such as Annapolis getting pumped up and playing the game of its life to beat Shelton's team.

None of the above could also be the right answer.

That's what Shelton and her players believe.

"I don't think we'd be where we are if we ever went into a game expecting to lose," said Shelton whose squad is in the National High School Field Hockey record book with nine state titles which match the nine owned by Frank W. Cox school of Virginia Beach.

Severna Park will also attempt to join Frank W. Cox and three other schools in the national record book this season with a fifth straight state championship.

The other three schools with five consecutive state championships are Stowe, Vt.; Montpelier, Vt.; and Concord, N.H.

For some unknown reason, possibly the never-ending high school controversy over what is a scrimmage and what is a game, the book doesn't list the record for most consecutive victories.

But 54 is heavy stuff.

Severna Park has not lost a field hockey game since late October 1992, or before Bill Clinton was elected president.

Queen Anne's High stunned Severna Park on the last day of the regular 1992 season and then the streak began in the regional playoffs.

Chesapeake's Raab has vowed not to retire until she gets her first victory ever over Severna Park and what an emotional day it would be for her if she and the Cougars ended the streak.

Just last season Meade coach Kelly Holden said she wouldn't stop coaching in Anne Arundel County until she beat Severna Park.

Guess what?

Holden is now coaching field hockey in Howard County at the new Long Reach High School.

Nicki Meshbesher is the head coach at Meade and is left with the task of facing the likes of Severna Park.

Meade, like most Anne Arundel schools, just doesn't have the numbers to compete with the Falcons. Only 24 players came out for varsity and junior varsity field hockey at Meade this season.

Arundel is the only school that comes close to matching Severna Park in numbers, thanks to a school record turnout of 72 players this year. The Falcons regularly attract between 80 and 100 players for tryouts.

"Our girls are fast and are good athletes but they don't know enough about field hockey," said Gosnell.

Raab said Severna Park has so much talent that "I understand Lil has to cut players just on the basis of their mile run."

Broadneck coach Phoebe Kelly said, "She [Shelton] can pick and choose exactly what she wants in a player."

So the Severna Park beat just might go on and on and on.

"We're walking down the street to Severn for our first game and we'll be cheering and singing," said Shelton of the couple of blocks trip to Severn from Severna Park. "All the girls want a fifth straight state title because they know that will put us in the record book again."

The Falcons will get a little taste of what it will be like to compete against a record book team this weekend when they travel to Virginia Beach to meet Frank W. Cox in a Labor Day scrimmage.

Shelton said she had hoped to schedule a regular-season game against Frank W. Cox but couldn't fit it into her three-game non-league schedule that includes traditional rivals Severn, St. Mary's and Spalding.

Pub Date: 8/29/96

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