The "Severna Park Field Hockey State Champs" bumper sticker seen before the state Class 4A championship game looked a bit travel-worn, but the 1995 victory salute was back in vogue yesterday after the Falcons whipped defending champion Westminster, 3-0, at Goucher College.
It marked the second straight year the metro area's top two teams met in the state 4A final, and for the second time No. 2 came out on top. A year ago, Westminster had come from behind with two second-half goals for a 2-1 win over Severna Park.
This one was all Severna Park (17-1), as it dominated the corners and outshot the Owls, 16-2, getting two goals within a four-minute span late in the first half and adding another 10 minutes into the second half.
An all-senior starting defense of Christine Ballance, Kaista Bowerman and Lisa Mulholland was superb in shutting down a Westminster team that had outscored its opponents, 50-4, and had not lost since the 1995 title game.
That defeat interrupted a run of four successive Severna Park championships, so it has now won five of the last six years, and a state-high 10 altogether since 1979.
This was icing on the cake for Lil Shelton, too, as the only coach the program has known (23 years) was inducted into the Anne Arundel County Hall of Fame, and collected victory No. 300 earlier this fall.
"I didn't do this, the kids did," said Shelton in a trademark expression. "We played really well; the girls did everything we asked. And we knew not to try to go straight in at their goalkeeper [Emily White], but to go for the sides."
Of the defensive effort, Balance said, "It was the same as it has been all season. We communicate and know our set positions on the corners. We all had someone to mark, and we all did our jobs."
The defenders played in front of sophomore goalkeeper Kim Lawton, who did not have to make a save, and, at the other end of the field, the goal-scorers were underclassmen.
Junior Jessica Gaither, her team's leading scorer, got her 11th goal (to go with 12 assists), when she scored from the top of the circle, the ball threading a needle into the left side of the cage. It was all the impetus the Falcons needed.
"I saw a little lane and aimed for the corner," Gaither said. "And we didn't let down. We didn't want to let them back in it."
Westminster barely had time to recover from that one, when junior Beth Davis set up sophomore Erin Shaklee, driving the ball in from outside the circle. Her shot from 15 yards out on the right side was on target. Junior Sara Zuckerman completed the picture, beating White off a pass from Bowerman.
Westminster coach Brenda Baker said, "They were more effective in their circle than we were. I felt like in the first half, other than the corners, we were about equal. They were just much stronger in the circle." To which attack Becky Towns added, "On their corners, they knew when and where to hit it."
Pub Date: 11/11/97