Fallston calls on secret inspiration in decisive triumph over Arundel Tiedemann, McNeill score as Cougars 'win for Fred'

4A-3A girls soccer

November 17, 1996|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

As far as No. 9 Fallston was concerned, its state championship victory was never in doubt.

After beating No. 2 Arundel, 2-0, for the Class 4A-3A title at Dundalk Community College yesterday, players and coaches were in total agreement: "Fred had it covered."

Actually "Fred" has had it covered all year.

Fred Sheckells, an assistant coach for this team, dropped dead of a heart attack last June, and the season was dedicated to him.

Players and coaches admitted he was never far from their thoughts. He was there when the Cougars lost their opener and tied their second game. He was there, too, as the team ran off 14 victories in 15 games.

The real sign came two weeks ago in a 9-8 sudden-death shootout with Chesapeake-AA in a regional semifinal.

"We noticed there was a solitary star right over the goal," senior sweeper Jenn Cook said. "We knew it was Fred, and he was taking care of us."

In the championship game, Fallston dominated the highly regarded Wildcats (16-2) from the start, beating them to the ball and winning most of the 50-50 chances.

Karen Tiedemann converted a crisp pass from Jenny Kardash, kicking into an open net from five yards out for the first goal 17 minutes into the game.

"I saw I was the only one there -- nobody around me -- and that side of the goal was wide open," Tiedemann said.

A Nancy Ferguson coaching philosophy of trying to get as much playing time as possible for all her players, even if it's only for a few minutes, returned a dividend when junior reserve Nicole McNeil capped a play in the middle of the second half.

From a scramble outside the penalty box, All-State selection Cindy Wolf touched the ball to Tiedemann, who re-directed it in the direction of the far side of the goal. McNeill was there to stick the ball into an unguarded net from five yards away.

"It was there," said McNeill. "I just had to hit it."

Of McNeill, Ferguson said, "Her skills have improved tenfold during the season. She had some big goals in other games, too."

There was no doubt this was a big one, for it provided some breathing room for the Harford County team. One-goal leads have been known to evaporate, even as well as the Cougars were playing.

The original catalyst for this outcome was a year ago when 1994 1A-2A champion Fallston, with an 88-goal scoring machine, lost to Centennial in a state semifinal, 1-0. The Cougars had played their regional final the night before, and there were a lot of tired legs.

"Maybe it was meant to be," Ferguson said. "The loss was not expected, and it made us madder just thinking about it. Then Fred's death brought us closer together."

Ferguson was more worried than her players about the championship game. "I knew it would break their hearts if we lost," she said. "They were the ones. We got just a total team effort."

For Cook the outcome was never in doubt, losing not an option. "I didn't feel any pressure," she said. "Amber Bradford was taking care of [Kelly] Jordan [Arundel's star scorer who had recorded 21 goals, 8 assists], and [fullbacks] Kristen Gayo and Christy Peterson were doing a great job. We all did it for Fred. We really wanted to win it for him."

To which Wolf added, "We had faith we could do it. It was a team effort -- 11 players touching the ball."

Pub Date: 11/17/96

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