Underdog Mt. Hebron takes aim at top Howard notebook

November 07, 1997|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Gail Purcell knows it can happen.

Two years ago, her Centennial field hockey team played heavily-favored Fallston for the Class 3A state title. Fallston had won the Class 2A state championship two straight years, and had a three-year record of 46-0-2.

Centennial played great, and its goalie, Becca Armiger, played even better, stopping 26 shots. The Eagles won, 1-0, on Jenny Silverman's goal with 15 seconds left in overtime, giving Howard County its first state field hockey title.

At 2 p.m. tomorrow, 13th-ranked Mount Hebron (14-1-1) will be the underdog against perennial power Bethesda-Chevy Chase (14-2-1) in the Class 2A state final at Goucher College. The Barons are in their 11th straight state tournament. They have won six titles, including the last three in a row.

Sound a little familiar?

"As a former giant-slayer, anybody can beat any given team on any given day, especially in a sport like field hockey," said Purcell, whose team lost to B-CC, 2-0, in the West region final last week.

"A lot of it comes down to desire and heart," Purcell said. "The best team doesn't always win, but the team with the most heart usually does. And Mount Hebron has a lot of heart."

Mount Hebron coach Jeannette Ireland likes being the underdog.

"It's a good way to go into your first state championship," she said. "You don't feel that pressure."

The Vikings must play smart, aggressively and take away the Barons' excellent short-passing game. In short, they must play their best game -- and then some.

Another Centennial? Why not?

"We can win this game. I have no doubt in my mind," Ireland said. "But you need to believe you can win. I think these kids believe they can."

Soccer playoffs

Six Howard County soccer teams play in state semifinal soccer games today and tomorrow, including both boys and girls teams from River Hill and Glenelg.

The girls Class 1A-2A semifinals are today at Howard High. Oakland Mills (12-4-1) takes on 15th-ranked Hereford (12-0-3) at 5 p.m., followed at 7: 30 p.m. by Glenelg (6-7-4) against Snow Hill (12-3).

In boys games today, Glenelg (10-6) plays Hereford (11-3-2) at Arundel High at 7: 30 p.m. in a Class 1A game, and top-ranked River Hill (14-1) takes on 13th-ranked Patapsco (14-2) at Magruder High in a Class 2A matchup, also at 7: 30.

Tomorrow, River Hill's 12th-ranked girls team (14-2) plays Loch Raven (12-3-1) at 3 p.m. at Catonsville Community College in a Class 2A-3A semifinal. Wilde Lake's sixth-ranked boys team (11-2-2) goes against Walter Johnson (8-6-1) at 5 p.m. at Linganore in a Class 3A contest.

A glance at the girls matchups:

Oakland Mills vs. Hereford: This is the third meeting in the last four years between the teams in the state tournament. Three years ago, Oakland Mills beat Hereford, 1-0, in the semifinals, and two years ago the Scorpions downed the Bulls, 2-0, for the Class 1A-2A title.

Melissa Mueller, a junior striker, leads the Baltimore County school with 23 goals. Another key player is sophomore center midfielder Jen Cox. Mueller and Oakland Mills' Leslie Miller (team-high 11 goals) play together on the Columbia Magic club team.

Glenelg vs. Snow Hill: This is Snow Hill's second year of girls soccer. Its defense, led by goalie Katie Hancock, has allowed only 14 goals in 15 games. Senior striker Usheka Davis and center halfback Hayley Howe have 13 and 12 goals.

Glenelg is led by Erin Kortecamp (eight goals, four assists), Stephanie Howell (seven, three) and Christa Vent (seven, two). The Gladiators, making their first appearance in the state semifinals, will be without starting midfielder Melissa Wilder, who drew a red card in Tuesday's game against Atholton and must sit out.

Glenelg, which played seven overtime games this season, has won its three regional contests by the margin of 13-0.

River Hill vs. Loch Raven: The Raiders, who won the Class 1A-2A state title last year, are led by Nicole Wartman (12 goals), Jen Graleski (11) and Ashley Froman (9). First-year coach Debby Konschak said goalie Angela Ruocco has had an excellent season. "We have nice speed all over the field," Konschak said. "I don't know if we have the foot skills [like River Hill]. That's my concern."

County champion River Hill is led by Kathy Gaertner (eight goals, 15 assists), Caitlin Bair (13, 7) and Natalie Cox (10, 2). The Hawks won four regional games by a combined 26-4.

Girls soccer

Wilde Lake's Amanda Berman and River Hill's Kathy Gaertner and Caitlin Bair were named to the All-State first team. Second-team members from the county include: Wanda Elledge and Sarah Campbell of Howard, Natalie Cox and Natalie Klisas of River Hill, Oakland Mills' Leslie Miller, Centennial's Mandy Zachmann and Glenelg's Jamie Epperlein.

Montgomery County is expected to play girls soccer next fall. Principals there have recommended moving the soccer season from spring to fall, and approval is expected by deputy superintendent Katheryn Gemberling.

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