Cruttenden aims to bag county title Goalie: With her play and her attitude, senior Jessica Cruttenden has assumed the role of leader for Mount Hebron's field hockey team.

September 15, 1996|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Jessica Cruttenden is walking toward her car after an afternoon field hockey practice at Mount Hebron. She is not alone.

She's carrying "the bag."

It is a big bag, especially when compared to the 5-foot-2 person hauling it. "It's almost as big as she is," said teammate Kelly Dodson. Inside are all the necessities of her trade: helmet, chest protector, hip pads, leg pads, moon boots, gloves and a stick.

And what aroma it has.

"It smells bad," said the Mount Hebron senior. "My whole team complains how bad it smells."

The bag may stink, but Cruttenden's gamesmanship at goalie is smelling like a rose. The three-year varsity starter has not allowed a goal in two games -- a 4-0 win over Perry Hall and a scoreless tie against No. 9 McDonogh.

"That was a strong game so early in the season," said Mount Hebron coach Jeannette Ireland of Cruttenden's 19-save performance against McDonogh last Tuesday. "She did a good job. I feel very comfortable with her."

McDonogh dominated much of the game, but Cruttenden had every angle covered. She had a similar game a year ago against Centennial, when the Vikings beat the Eagles, 1-0, for the first time in six seasons.

"I put it in my mind that the ball wasn't going to go in the cage," said Cruttenden of the victory against Centennial. "That was my best game of all last year."

The exhilaration lasted one week. This is, after all, field hockey, "one of those screwy games," Cruttenden said. "It can go anyway at anytime."

And so it did in the regular-season finale at Glenelg. Leading 3-0 midway through the second half, Mount Hebron was on its way to the county title. But then Glenelg scored. Scored again and again.

"There was a definite change of momentum," Cruttenden said. "You could feel it."

The emotional swing continued into overtime. The Vikings lost, 4-3, and with it their dreams of a county title disappeared. They finished third in the county standings. A few days later they lost to Thomas Johnson, also in overtime, in their playoff opener.

"We wanted it [the county title] so bad, but we let it get away from us," Cruttenden said. "It's a good motivator for this season to look back and see how horrible it was. We've learned that you take it game by game and to keep the intensity up until the final whistle."

Cruttenden, a second-team all-county selection last season, is pleased to have a larger role. A co-captain along with Dodson, Cruttenden is the team's most experienced defensive player and is eager to share her knowledge.

"She's a big leader back there," said Dodson. "She guides the defense and really helps them out."

"I'm taking charge more," said Cruttenden, who has a new defensive unit in front of her. "I'm talking a lot more."

It's a role Cruttenden enjoys, and one that she now feels comfortable with. That's because she's more confident.

"I know I have improved," said Cruttenden, who said her clears are stronger and her movements are quicker. "I feel better about my overall play."

Cruttenden, who has a 3.67 grade-point average and a Scholastic Assessment Test score of 1,200, hopes to attend James Madison University next year. She would like to play on its highly-competitive Division I team, but would settle to play on a club team.

"I don't want to go to a school just for a sport," Cruttenden said. "I like James Madison and feel really comfortable there."

But for now, her thoughts are on doing whatever it takes to help Mount Hebron win a county championship.

"I think we have a good shot to win the county title, but we have a lot to work on," Cruttenden said. "Our chemistry is good. I think we have the potential to be better then we were last year."

Pub Date: 9/15/96

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