Fast breaks will have new meaning this season with the elimination of the offside rule from high school field hockey.
The rule already has been dropped from the international and college games, so the Association of Independent Schools and the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association jTC dropped it with no opposition.
"It will open up more scoring opportunities," said Friends coach Carol Samuels. "It should put much more pressure on the goalkeeper, because you can take advantage of vertical space more. Think how many goals were called back. [The offside rule] makes you hesitate, and when you hesitate, you lose that chance to score."
Dulaney coach Anita Crotty agreed: "It's going to make a big difference as far as the weak-side kids pushing up and being in position to receive those crosses."
Additional scoring could cut down on the increasing number of ties among the stronger teams. Last year's final Top 15 teams accumulated 43 ties.
The difference could be especially noticeable in the AIS, where teams play 25-minute halves with no overtime rather than the 30-minutes halves and two seven-on-seven overtime periods that public school teams play.
AIS teams accounted for 33 of those Top 15 ties last fall. Three ranked AIS teams finished with five ties each, and one had six.
Eastern Tech's visit to No. 13 Woodlawn at 1 p.m. Saturday has implications for Baltimore County's Class 3A-4A football title, which Woodlawn, Dulaney and Perry Hall shared last fall.
Woodlawn (1-0), coming off last weekend's non-league 15-0 victory over Walbrook, is led by Division I prospects Reggie Danage and Tavon Mason, who run the 40-yard dash in 4.4- and 4.5-seconds respectively. Danage and Mason are listed among East Region's best in the The National Recruiting Adviser, and defensive end Derrick George (6-foot-3, 200 pounds), a transfer from Dunbar, had 10 sacks last season.
Eastern Tech (1-0), coming off a 24-0 non-league rout of Archbishop Spalding, features second-team All-City/County wide receiver Anthony Lawston, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior.
Lawston, whose brought a two-year total of 71 receptions for 1,504 yards and 10 touchdowns into this season, was among six returning starters amid a turnout of 65 players from a team that went 7-3 under coach Nick Armino.
Is this a turn-around?
Defense keyed Douglass' 6-0 football victory over two-time defending MIAA champ St. Paul's last weekend, ending the Crusaders' 19-game winning streak.
Leading the way were defensive linemen Monroe Brown and John Simmons, who weigh more than 255 pounds each, along with fullback-defensive back Joe Hall and cornerback Lonnie Langley. Running back Tony Fisher scored the winning touchdown, a 35-yard, off-tackle sprint "with about a minute left," White said.
Coach David White also hopes the victory spells the end of the Ducks' recent skein of close losses to quality teams. Last year's Ducks went 3-5, with narrow losses against playoff teams Lake Clifton and Hickey -- the latter being their next opponent.
Against St. Paul's, the Ducks thwarted one of the area's best in 6-foot-3, 175-pound signal caller Conor Gill, who passed last season for 1,163 yards and 15 touchdowns as the Crusaders finished 9-0 and ranked No. 8 in the area. An All-Metro lacrosse attackman, Gill also is among the nation's top recruits in that sport.
"The kid [Gill] was an excellent athlete with a great arm, but we were able to rush him a lot," said White, who then referred to a crucial goal-line stand by his Ducks.
"It was a pass play late in the game where they had the ball on about our 2-yard line," White said. "Their [receiver] was wide open in the end zone, but we got to him [Gill] and forced him to overthrow the guy. They missed a field goal to end the series. We stopped them."
No time for turkey
Eleven top local field hockey players will spend Thanksgiving weekend in Palm Springs, Calif., trying to impress college coaches.
As part of Team Maryland, they will compete at the United States Field Hockey Association's Hockey Festival Nov. 28-30.
"It's a huge recruiting tool for college coaches, because they can go to one place and see so many players," said Roland Park coach Debbie Bloodsworth, who will coach one of two Maryland teams.
All-Metro first-teamers Carrie Wirth and Kate Simon, Fallston, and second-teamers Kate Kaiser, Notre Dame Prep, and Rebecca Shapiro, Park, are making return trips to the festival.
Also selected were second-teamer Hilary Polk-Williams and Jenny Landsman, St. Paul's; Elizabeth Ryan, Gretchen Crook and Stasia Thomas, Roland Park; Phyllis Byrd, McDonogh; and Megan Gauvey-Kern, Park. Virginia Novak, Bryn Mawr; Beth Hurtt, McDonogh; and Kristin Sudina, Roland Park; were named alternates.
Team Maryland includes 32 girls chosen from 109 who tried out at Roland Park on June 22.
Last year's festival in Florida drew 62 high school teams. In addition to playing seven games, seniors have a chance to meet with college coaches.
"Last year, even underclassmen started receiving letters [from college coaches] almost as soon as they got back," said Fran Markwith, Maryland State High School Field Hockey Coaches Association president.
Pub Date: 9/12/97