A Team Hitched To A, Uh, Comet

Girls Lacrosse: Nearing Their First Harford County Title In 20 Years, The North Harford Hawks Are Guided By A Hale-bopp-inspired Goal, To Become `A Shining Star.'

April 25, 1997|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

North Harford's girls lacrosse team still can't figure out exactly how to fit the comet Hale-Bopp into its halftime cheer.

What exactly rhymes with Hale-Bopp, anyway?

The Hawks will keep working on it, though, because they fancy themselves as somewhat of a celestial spectacle, too.

With Friday's 13-4 victory over Fallston, the Hawks are on the brink of winning their first Harford County championship in 20 years.

At 8-0, the No. 11-ranked Hawks already have beaten defending county champ C. Milton Wright and perennial powerhouses Fallston and Loch Raven. Never have they been ranked higher.

Coach Barbara Waite hitched her team to Hale-Bopp after she spotted the comet on the horizon while driving home one evening early in the season.

"That comet is really something special," said Waite, "and this team is like that. I can think of a couple of other teams that have been unique, but something that special doesn't come around very often. I told these kids, `I want to see you guys be a shining star and outshine every other star in the county.' "

The Hawks' star began to rise in last year's regional final game against Loch Raven. Trailing 16-6 with 10 minutes to go, the Hawks staged a furious rally that included six goals in the final 8: 15. Loch Raven escaped with a 17-14 victory, but the Hawks had set the stage for this season.

"We really started to click last year," said defender Brooke Thomas, "and we tried to pick up right there."

The Hawks opened the season with a 21-1 romp over Patterson and then edged Loch Raven, 8-7.

"That's when we realized what potential we have," said midfield catalyst Suzanne Eyler. "We were up 8-3, and they were playing catch up. We're trying to live up to that now."

The Hawks' success is really no stardust phenomenon. Most have played together since seventh grade. They have a balanced attack and a veteran defense.

"We all work well together," said senior playmaker Stacy Rose. "The attack has people with different skills -- some are really fast, some are good passers, some are good shooters -- and we know each other's strengths and weaknesses."

The attack of Rose, Eyler, Erika Schneider, Jen Axelsson, Christine Sliger and Kristyn Krastel averages 14 goals a game.

Eyler has 34 points, including 24 goals, and Rose has 33 points, including 21 assists. Schneider has 20 goals and 11 assists, and Axelsson, 14 goals and nine assists.

The defense -- goalie Nicole Hanratty, Thomas, Cari Baker, Danielle Konschak, Tara Schlerf and Jessica Colletta -- has allowed only four goals a game.

While comet Hale-Bopp is barely visible now, the Hawks show no signs of fading.

They have three Harford County league games left and already have beaten one of those opponents -- Joppatowne (18-5). The others don't appear to have any better chance of an upset, but the Hawks remain wary.

"We're trying not to get too far ahead of ourselves right now," said Eyler.

That would be easy. The Hawks can't help but look forward to regional playoffs. Loch Raven and Hereford appear to be the only Class 1A-2A North region teams capable of challenging them.

The Hawks host Hereford, which also beat Loch Raven by one goal, on May 5. After that, they head into the regionals and, they hope, beyond.

"Everyday at practice someone mentions states," said Rose. "Our main goal has always been to win states. We've all made a commitment to that."

After all, the Hawks cannot afford to wait until comet Hale-Bopp comes around again. That's 3,000 years from now.

Pub Date: 4/25/97

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