Westminster marches on to final Owls subdue Whitman in overtime, to meet Severna Park Saturday

Field hockey

November 05, 1996|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The Westminster Owls have been there before. Dominating on the first day at Goucher College, but still trailing.

They had a 12-4 edge in shots in the first half of yesterday afternoon's Class 4A state semifinal against Walt Whitman, but it was the Vikings who had the only goal in the first 30 minutes.

"Oh no, here we go again," said one Westminster fan.

Not this time.

Junior forward Lisa Duke gave Westminster new life with a tying goal midway through the second half and junior defender Sarah Palaia made the most of it a little later, stepping up inside the circle to fire a shot past Whitman junior goalie Julia McCombs in the second overtime session to give the No. 2 Owls a 2-1 win.

After seeing the previous three seasons come to an end at the state semifinals, including a 2-0 loss to Whitman last year, the Owls (15-0-1) finally were rewarded for their hard work.

They'll return to Goucher on Saturday to meet top-ranked and defending state champ Severna Park -- a 3-0 winner over Dulaney in the other semifinal yesterday afternoon -- in the final at 2 p.m. The Owls' last state championship came in 1991, when they edged Severna Park, 1-0.

Yesterday was the third straight time this postseason the Owls erased a one-goal deficit to advance in the playoffs. They came from behind to knock off Gaithersburg and Watkins Mill to reach the state tournament and were back at it again.

"We're the queens of comebacks. We don't lose our cool," said Duke, who raced past a defender to get around the left side and score. "Jill [Ibex] gave me a great pass to the left side. That's my side. I dodged a defender and pulled it back and found the opposite corner."

Westminster co-coach Brenda Baker, who agreed, continually is amazed at her young team's composure. The Owls have eight juniors and one sophomore to go with four seniors.

"One of our strengths is that our mindset doesn't change. They just keep on playing hard no matter what the score," she said.

In overtime, the number of players is reduced to six and a goalie for each team and after the first 10 minutes, six new players are sent out for the second period.

The Owls' first six -- Duke, Linnea Pagulayan, Kelly Berkle, Jill Ibex, Carli Harris and Mary Dickensheets joining goalie Emily White -- provided a relentless attack. Harris had three chances and Berkle two more with the Owls taking five penalty corners, but they were unable to get anything past McCombs.

The next six -- Palaia, Rachel Tyree, Selena Brewer, Lindsay Iadevaia, Stephanie Levin and Cindy Reese -- picked up right where they left off.

"I'm glad we got past this and didn't have to go to penalty strokes," said Palaia, who finished it with her second goal of the season. "I was afraid I was going to take it away from Stephanie, but I took a chance and hit it."

Harris played a strong game defensively for the Owls, and Ibex came up with a big assist on Duke's goal. White (10 saves) also played well in goal, especially shortly after the Owls tied the game and Whitman came back with a brief flurry.

Severna Park 3, Dulaney 0

Severna Park All-Metro forward Amy Noble scored all the goals in a state Class 4A semifinal at Goucher College.

The Lions actually gave the Falcons many more opportunities, but goalie Heather Benson finished with 24 saves against 28 Falcons' shots.

Pub Date: 11/05/96

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