Westminster ends Severna Park's reign Owls regain state crown lost in '91 to Falcons

Field hockey

November 13, 1996|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

A soaring ball that sailed far over goalkeeper Laura Snider's head but somehow landed in the goal for a dramatic 2-1 Westminster overtime victory yesterday sent unabated chills through a nationally-renowned Severna Park field hockey team, ending one of the country's longest state-championship reigns.

After the ball disappeared into the back of the net on a bitter cold afternoon at Goucher College, pandemonium broke loose on the field as the Owls realized they were the state Class 4A field hockey champions.

It was Westminster's fifth Class 4A state championship and the second time the Owls beat the Falcons for a state title. The first was in 1991, before Severna Park came back the next season to beat Westminster for the 4A title and start its recent dominance.

Top-ranked Severna Park (15-2) had won 69 of its last 70 games over five seasons and was shooting for a record fifth consecutive state Class 4A title, its 10th overall.

And the team had a celebrated goal scorer in Amy Noble, who will be featured on ESPN later this month in a National Scholastic Sports show. Noble had scored an amazing 29 goals in 16 games this season in a sport that is known for producing a lot of one or two-goal games.

But none of those credentials seemed to intimidate 4-foot-11 senior attacker Linnea Pagulayan and her second-ranked Westminster (16-0-1) teammates.

Pagulayan was credited with the winning goal when she slammed the ball off a Severna Park stick amid a flurry of activity in front of the net and it popped high into the air for the score with 2: 31 remaining in the first sudden-death 10-minute overtime.

"We knew they had a big goal scorer and a long streak, but we didn't fear them," said Pagulayan.

"We felt we could win because we hadn't lost a game and they had one loss. We shut her [Noble] down with our tough defense. All those girls back there were great as they formed a nice blanket around Noble. Stephanie Levin, Carli Harris and Mary Dickensheets never quit and our goalie, Emily White [seven saves], was all over the place."

Levin probably made all the late heroics possible for Westminster when she made a last-ditch save of a Sara Zuckerman shot from point-blank range when White got caught out of the net.

That Levin save prevented the Owls from falling two goals down with 11: 41 left in the first half. Kristin Crawford had scored from close range off a pass from Noble for a 1-0 Severna Park lead.

"I don't think they took Amy out of the game," said Falcons coach Lil Shelton. "We just couldn't score and they played a great game."

Westminster gained a 1-1 tie just 2: 40 into the second half when Lisa Duke drilled home a shot from just inside the top of the circle off a pass from Harris.

Severna Park fought back with some good fast-break runs on the goal midway through the second half and Jenn Dunham smacked a ball into the goal that was disallowed because it was shot from outside the circle.

Noble insisted she got a stick on the Dunham shot that would have made the shot good for a 2-1 lead.

That stretch was Severna Park's last big push and Westminster dominated the rest of regulation and most of the overtime, raining shots on Snider, who kicked away several near-goals.

Westminster co-coach Sue Hooper said she at first thought the winning goal would fly over the cage and then maybe the officials might call a dangerous hit on Pagulayan.

"That's a close call in there," said Hooper. "If the ball had gone off another offensive stick instead of a defensive stick it would have been a dangerous hit [penalty]."

But none of that seemed to matter to a jubilant Owls team.

Pub Date: 11/13/96

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