Northern flattens Liberty, 3-0 Calvert County power moves into 3A state final

November 13, 1997|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

Northern-Calvert County may have changed classifications, but the program has not changed a bit. It is still the same old Patriots -- win, win, win.

The team from Owings, which has established a championship reputation in recent years, continued its run through the Class 3A playoffs with a 15-7, 15-4, 15-6 state semifinal conquest of Liberty (15-4) at Essex Community College last night.

With Emily Stoud healthy, the Lions from Carroll County had a chance to be competitive. Without her, realistically, they were just trying to survive.

Stoud, a 5-foot-10 senior who led her team in kills and blocks, sustained strained ligaments and a pulled muscle near her left Achilles' tendon while celebrating after Liberty's 3-0 region title romp over Richard Montgomery.

She tried to make a go of it, gamely getting playing time in each of the three games, but was forced to hobble on one leg.

"In our past games, when we'd get down, we'd usually make a good pass, and I'd get the hit. It pumped us up and got us going," Stoud said. "Here, they got the first couple of points, and we fell apart. I had some chances, but I couldn't do anything."

Coach Dave Trumbo pinpointed his team's on-court woes: "It all starts with a pass, and we passed very poorly."

The two schools' state tournament history was a study in contrast.

This marked Liberty's first appearance at this level in seven years, and as Trumbo said, "They walked into this big arena and were wide-eyed. There was a tournament atmosphere, noise from the match on the other court -- a lot of distractions -- and we played poorly. They mixed things up well, too. "

There were times when the Patriots would make a bad first pass and wind up hitting it out of the back row for a point, as Beth Radford, a 5-foot-8 senior leader who was averaging nearly five kills a game, would find an open space.

"On defense, they cover so much, we only got a few kills. We did make some nice digs, though," Trumbo added.

Abby Barnett, a 5-11 junior who pretty much was left to patrol the front line alone, had only one kill and a couple of blocks.

Northern, on the other hand, has a rich championship level tradition, especially in the 1990s. The school, which had won a Class 3A title in 1990 before moving up to Class 4A, was in the 4A championship game five of six years and won three successive championships (1994-96), before returning to 3A this school year.

The Southern Maryland team opened with losses to state finalists Bowie and Centennial but rolled through the rest of its regular season, losing only to arch-rival Calvert, 3-0. The Patriots made up for that malfunction with a 3-0 victory in a regional rematch.

"We need to push the middle more and eliminate our unforced errors," third-year coach Beth Incrocci said in looking ahead to the championship game. She directed two undefeated teams before this year and now has a record of 69-4.

Northern went on to whip James M. Bennett and Patuxent, each 3-0, to reach the state level. Liberty had won 10 of its previous 11 matches going in, including four regional victories, the last three without loss of a game.

Pub Date: 11/13/97

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