Regular season erased, Hammond draws bead on state championship Bears face 16-1 Loch Raven to decide Class 2A-1A titlist

Girls soccer

November 15, 1996|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

The eighth-place finish in the Howard County standings and the 4-7-1 overall record at the end of the regular season are distant memories.

"They don't mean anything," said Hammond senior Emily Bielefeld.

Not when your team can win a state title.

The Golden Bears might have won only two county games this season, but thanks to the open-playoff system and a four-game winning streak, they are the only county girls team playing for a state championship. Hammond (8-7-1) will meet No. 3-ranked Loch Raven (16-1) for the Class 2A-1A title at 5 p.m. tomorrow at Dundalk Community College.

"Each game, we've been improving," Bielefeld said. "We've come together as a team when it really counts."

Leading the way has been Bielefeld, a senior midfielder and four-year starter. A captain, Bielefeld has rallied the Golden Bears in the playoffs with her inspirational play and her ability to finish.

She scored four goals in the regular season, but has six in the playoffs. Her most important goal came with eight minutes left against River Hill in the opening playoff game. That cut River Hill's lead to 2-1. Michelle Jenkins scored a few minutes later to tie the game, and the Golden Bears won in a shootout.

"When we were down 2-0, I didn't think it would happen," said Jenkins, a sophomore who has 12 goals, six in the playoffs. "But when Emily scored, I knew we could pull through."

Hammond coach Ken Zachmann credits his three captains -- Bielefeld, Amanda Sheplee and Kimberly Keefe -- for much of the team's success. "They are the best leaders you'll ever want," Zachmann.

But clearly the leader of the team and their No. 1 cheerleader is Bielefeld, who is as excitable off the field as she is hard-playing on the field.

"Emily has shown the greatest maturity in any captain I've seen," Zachmann said. "She's a together-type person. She brings the kids together and helps them bond. And she brings out the best qualities of everybody. It takes an exceptional player to do that."

Zachmann said he had "many" lineup changes during the regular season. And while all the shuffling might have hurt Hammond in the regular season, the benefits have appeared in the playoffs. The Golden Bears lost to River Hill and Glenelg during the season, but beat both in the playoffs.

The Golden Bears start two freshmen, five sophomores, two juniors and two seniors. One of the freshmen starters is Martha Bielefeld, Emily's sister.

"Having Emily and Martha together has been great," Zachmann said. "Martha has grown into a much more physical player, and that has made a big difference on the field."

Emily is the lone Hammond player to have played in the Golden Bears' last appearance in the state final. That came in 1993, when Loch Raven defeated Hammond, 2-0.

"I remembered we struggled," Emily said. "We knew we were the underdog, just like we are this year."

This season, Loch Raven lost its opening game, 3-2, to now No. 7-ranked Mercy. Since then, the Raiders have won 16 straight, allowing only three goals.

They are led defensively by two-time All-Metro sweeper Nicole ,, Froman and goalkeeper Angie Ruocco. Senior forward Susan Giannaccini (23 goals, two assists) leads the Baltimore County champions on offense.

Loch Raven's record and statistics don't rattle Emily Bielefeld. She knows her team is playing well and plans to go all out in her last high school game.

"As a senior, this is the best way to go out," Bielefeld. "I'm really proud of my team and everything we've accomplished."

Pub Date: 11/15/96

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