Williamsport eliminates Edgewood in three sets in Class 1A semifinal Rams finish season 15-3, will return 9 of 12 players

November 13, 1996|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

Williamsport, a perennial Western Maryland power, moved a step closer to another state championship by defeating Edgewood in a Class 1A semifinal at Essex Community College last night.

The difference between the two teams was magnified during the introductions when Edgewood was announced as being here for the first time, and Williamsport, followed by a string of championship years.

The Wildcats earned the right to defend their 1995 title with a 15-1, 15-10, 15-7 triumph that took 55 minutes. The Washington County power (18-1) will meet Francis Scott Key (16-1), a winner over Colonel Richardson, in Saturday's championship at Catonsville Community College.

"It was important for us to get on the board early, so we didn't have to struggle," said Williamsport's first-year head coach, Kristi Hart, a member of the Wildcats' championship squads in 1987-88.

"We didn't really know what to expect coming in here. We knew Edgewood's record, but that was all. However, I thought the experience of playing at the state level would be in our favor."

It certainly was, as it turned out to be a learning experience for Edgewood (15-3), one coach Debbie Brinkman hopes will be a building block next season, when nine of her 12 players, including three starters, will return.

The Rams are a balanced team with no superstar, although they get solid play and good leadership from seniors Mindi Martin, Kyndra Brown and Karly Crawford. It is, however, a group that concentrates on working well together.

Their level of play did not seem to vary too much in the three games, with the middle one more a case of Williamsport's letting its intensity drop before getting back on track.

It still would have to count as a stellar year for the Harford County team, however, for its two-year record before this season was 12-22.

"I brought the team in early in the evening [Edgewood played at 8 o'clock], and you could see their eyes open wide," Brinkman said. "Then, during the match, Williamsport's experience really showed, and our lack of it showed."

This could have been a tough season for Williamsport with a first-year coach and the six starters among seven seniors on the squad, but it did not turn out that way. The tradition is so strong and Hart is a part of it, so the team moved along without missing a beat.

The only blemish was a 3-1 loss to Smithsburg, an outcome that was reversed later in the season and served as a catapult to the regionals. The team has won 10 matches in a row, including five in the playoffs, where it has not lost a game.

Pub Date: 11/13/96

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