Player of the Year
Wendy Ison, Chesapeake: It doesn't take long to take notice of Ison, who dominated both ends of the field to carry Chesapeake (11-5) to the region championship. Her outstanding numbers (13 goals, school single-season record nine assists) only tell part of the story that makes her such a gifted player. "Wendy's a self-made player," said Chesapeake coach Jerry Raab. "As a freshman, she was determined to become the best field hockey she could and took every opportunity to better herself as a player. She has phenomenal stickwork and a sense of where the ball is going next -- a real link from the defense to offense." Ison, the county's most complete player, is most recognized for her hard shot that produced the 13 goals and scared plenty of opposing goalies. Just how hard? "It's the hardest shot I've ever seen at the high school level," said Raab, who's been coaching at Chesapeake for 22 years. Ison tore her anterior cruciate ligament at the end of last season, having surgery in December and recovering in time to play varsity lacrosse in the spring. It didn't slow her down any in putting together an incredible senior season in field hockey. A first-team All-State selection, no midfielder received more votes than Ison.
Coach of the Year
Lil Shelton, Severna Park: Her first 22 years of coaching field hockey at Severna Park -- highlighted by nine state championships -- are no doubt remarkable and memorable. But the 1997 season, which concluded earlier this month with a 10th state crown, will hold a special place in Shelton's heart. The season brought Shelton her 300th career win, induction into the Anne Arundel Hall of Fame and, fittingly, a state final rematch against the Westminster team that last year ended the Falcons' four-year dominance in Class 4A. The No. 1 Falcons (17-1) left little doubt who was the finest team in the state with a convincing 3-0 win over the previously undefeated Owls. "It was an incredible year, very exciting, but nobody does it alone. There was 22 players and two coaches to get us there," she said. With balanced scoring and a talented, senior-oriented defense, the Falcons dominated throughout the season scoring 65 goals while allowing just four. Their 15 shutouts tied a school record first set in 1987 when that team allowed just one goal the entire season. What will Shelton remember most of hee special season? "The girls, all the fun we had and how hard we worked. All seven seniors were outstanding and provided good leadership. They all finished the [state championship] game."
First team at a glance
Krista Bowerman, Severna Park, senior, defense: It's often difficult to stand out playing defense, but Bowerman did just that. A first-team selection at sweeper last year, she moved up to the center back position this season and dominated defensively to help lead the top-ranked Falcons to their 10th state title. Always to the ball first, Bowerman, a team captain, was able to use her crafty stickwork to find space to clear. Of the 167 free hits she took, 132 found a teammate's stick.
Kat Brady, Spalding, senior, midfield: A three-year starter and team captain, Brady was asked to do a little of everything for the Cavaliers this season. Her versatility enabled Cavs coach Mary Pat Bozel to use her all over the field. Against a strong opposing offense, Brady would mark the top scoring threat. When the Cavs needed offense, she would create up top. She was also a steadying influence at midfield. Brady (two goals, three assists) took the majority of the Cavaliers' free hits and also was the striker on penalty corners.
T.J. Driver, Meade, senior, defense: Meade coach Nicki Meshbesher said a lot of her team's success was a direct result of Driver's strong play at sweeper. An honorable mention in the county last season, Driver, a co-captain, made the jump to the first team this year with her fine stick skills, aggressive play in the defensive circle and all-around sense of the game. Chosen the Mustangs' Most Valuable Player, Driver brought an excellent work ethic to practice.
Jess Gaither, Severna Park, junior, midfielder: Gaither did it all playing the middle of the field for the Falcons. She finished the season with 13 goals -- coming from the outside with one of the hardest drives on the team or with scrappy play in front -- and added 11 assists to lead the team in scoring. She had two-goal games three times this season against Spalding, South River and Broadneck. Gaither took most of the Falcons' free hits and also was the team's corner hitter.
Bif Moorshead, Severn, junior, defense: The two-year starter was the backbone of a young Admiral team. Her athleticism, great stick skills and fine sense of the field were her trademarks. Moorshead was plenty busy this season and able to hold her own against some of the best attackers in the AIS. Moorshead was quick to the ball and then used her sound stickwork to dodge before sending the ball up the field with a strong drive.