16 wins later, Loch Raven seeks new title But Raiders not taking humble Hammond lightly

Girls soccer

November 15, 1996|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Looking at tomorrow's state championship matchup between No. 3 Loch Raven and unranked Hammond, the Raiders would have to be considered overwhelming favorites.

The Raiders (16-1) are riding a 16-game win streak; the Bears (8-7-1) have won four straight. The Raiders have 14 shutouts and allowed six goals; the Bears have one shutout and gave up 26 goals.

Not only do the Raiders have all that in their favor, they won their first state title -- and Baltimore County's first -- two years ago over Hammond.

Still, the Raiders will be taking nothing for granted when they meet the Bears for the state Class 2A-1A championship at 5 p.m. tomorrow at Dundalk Community College.

"It's very easy for us to keep it in perspective," said Nicole Froman, the Raiders two-time All-Metro sweeper. "They have a good team, obviously, because they made it to states. We just want to play our game, and we can't get cocky because that just takes away from our game."

Their game has simply overwhelmed most opponents. The Raiders haven't fallen since a 3-2 loss to now-No. 7 Mercy in the season opener. They rallied from being down 3-0 in that game and haven't stopped rolling.

A strong marking defense and a sharp short-passing game kept the Raiders cruising to a second straight Baltimore County title and a 12-0 blitz through their four playoff games.

The Bears, who start seven underclassmen, haven't been nearly so dominant.

They finished eighth in the tough Howard County league and posted a 4-7-1 overall record during the regular season, but they have come on strong lately. In the regionals, the Bears knocked off two teams that had beaten them earlier, River Hill and Glenelg.

"They're a good team," said Raiders coach Anthony Menegatti, who scouted the Bears' 6-0 state semifinal win over Cambridge-South Dorchester. "Their midfield is strong with [Emily] Bielefeld in the middle. She's a really strong player. And they're really good in the back with their sweeper [Lauren Traber] and goalkeeper [Lindsey Mitchell]."

The Raiders beat Urbana, 4-0, in the state semifinals, but probably their biggest win in the last three years came in the regional finals when they edged now-No. 11 Hereford in a shootout.

For two years, the Bulls had beaten the Raiders by the narrowest of margins in the regionals. Last year, the Bulls won 1-0 in overtime, the year before in a shootout.

While the defense has drawn the most attention, the Raiders also boast a strong, balanced attack that is averaging four goals a game. Susan Giannaccini is the leading scorer with 23 goals and two assists. Nicole Wartman has 10 goals and five assists.

Pub Date: 11/15/96

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