So how does a team prove it's better than an eighth-place finish in the county standings?
If you're Hammond High, you win three straight region games and advance to the state semifinals.
The Golden Bears completed their run through the Class 2A-1A South region playoffs last night, beating Glenelg, 4-2, in the championship at Howard High. Hammond will meet Cambridge-South Dorchester, a 5-0 winner last night over visiting Elkton, in a state semifinal at 7: 30 p.m. tomorrow at Catonsville Community College.
Hammond (7-7-1) had lost to River Hill (2-0) and Glenelg (3-0) during a regular season in which it won only two county games. But the Golden Bears defeated both teams in the playoffs.
Against River Hill in the quarterfinals, Hammond was losing 2-0 with under 10 minutes left before goals by Emily Bielefeld and Michelle Jenkins tied the game. The game was suspended by darkness, and Hammond won a shootout the next day.
Bielefeld, a senior, and Jenkins, a sophomore, came up big again last night. Bielefeld scored two first-half goals for a 2-1 halftime lead. After Glenelg's Carolyn Flowers tied the game 2: 32 into the second half, Jenkins did the rest with two outstanding individual goals.
The game-winning goal started when Jennifer Jones sent an excellent cross to the right side.
As the ball bounced toward the penalty box, Jenkins found herself in a footrace with Glenelg goalkeeper Jamie Epperlein.
"My adrenalin was really going," said Jenkins. "The goalie was rushing toward me. I didn't know what to do. I'm glad I got it off before we collided."
Jenkins got to the ball and "volleyed it" past Epperlein into the left corner of the net with 31: 20 left to play.
Jenkins scored again with 13: 14 left, dribbling past two defenders in the right corner to put a left-footed shot past Epperlein (13 saves).
Hammond dominated the last 20 minutes of the second half by being more aggressive, never letting Glenelg start anything.
"The first time we played them, we got a lot of 50-50 balls," said Glenelg's Lauren Brown. "But tonight, they were getting to them first. They really played well."
"They just outplayed us, and we played well," said Glenelg coach Mike Williams. "My hat's off to Hammond."
Said Jenkins: "We've really brought our game together. No one expected us to come this far, and I'm glad we showed everyone that we could do it. We're playing the best I've ever seen us play."
For Bielefeld, one of only four seniors on the team, it is her second trip to the state semifinals. As a freshman, she played when the Golden Bears reached the state finals before losing to Loch Raven.
"As a senior, it's the best feeling to keep the season going," said Bielefeld. "This team just never gives up. There's so much spirit and heart. Even down 2-0 against River Hill, we never stopped giving up. That's how we've been winning in the playoffs."
Said Hammond first-year coach Ken Zachmann: "We played River Hill and Glenelg (6-8-1) before. We're not stupid. We learned from our mistakes. We're playing at the top of our game."
Pub Date: 11/07/96