1997 All-Metro field hockey teams

November 25, 1997

Player of the Year

Wendy Ison, Chesapeake, senior, midfield: Ison combined athletic ability, a finesse game and uncanny natural instincts to turn in an unparalleled season. The Anne Arundel County Player of the Year dominated both ends of the field to carry the No. 9 Cougars (11-5) into the county title game and the regional final. She scored the game-tying goal against then-No. 1 Westminster to force a shootout for the regional championship eventually won by the Owls. All of this came just a year after a serious knee injury, a torn anterior cruciate ligament, suffered at the end of last field hockey season. Ison had surgery in December and came back to play lacrosse. By fall, she made everyone forget she had ever been injured. Ison led the Cougars in scoring with 13 goals and a school-record nine assists. A first-team All-State selection, she has honed her game through the U.S. Field Hockey Association's Olympic-development style Futures Program. "Wendy's a self-made player," said Chesapeake coach Jerry Raab. "As a freshman, she was determined to become the best field hockey player she could be 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." For a second straight year, Ison was selected for Team Maryland, which plays at the USFHA's Hockey Festival near Palm Springs, Calif., this weekend.

Coach of the Year

Lil Shelton, Severna Park: The most successful coach in Maryland field hockey history, Shelton has reached milestones and reaped accolades for 23 years, but this fall will hold a special place in her heart. Not only did the season bring Shelton her 300th career victory and induction into the Anne Arundel County Hall of Fame, but her team reclaimed the Class 4A state title, its fifth in six years. The Falcons, whose only loss came 1-0 to Roland Park in the third week of the season, won 13 straight games to finish with the No. 1 ranking. The move to the top came after the Falcons (17-1) avenged last year's state-title loss to Westminster with a convincing 3-0 victory in the state final. That win continued to boost Shelton's numbers into a realm untouched by her local peers. Her career winning percentage is 87.7 and her record of 306-38-5 ranks her 15th nationally. In addition, Shelton has guided the Falcons to a record 10 state titles, 17 region crowns and 19 county championships as well as five unbeaten seasons. This fall the Falcons scored 65 goals while allowing just four. Their 15 shutouts tied a school record first set in 1987 when that team allowed just one goal all season. "It was an incredible year, very exciting, but nobody does it alone. There were 22 players and two coaches to get us there," Shelton said. "I don't think I've done anything special. It's just the way I do things and the way I've chosen to conduct the program. I tell the kids, always go for excellence. Mediocrity is not in my vocabulary."

The first team

Kate Ahearn, St. Paul's, senior, defense: Ahearn enjoyed a breakthrough season as the field leader for the No. 5 Gators (12-3-2), who reached the Association of Independent Schools A Division title game for a second straight year. With her speed and skill, Ahearn was explosive in bringing the ball out of the back and in almost single-handedly upsetting defensive corners. More importantly, however, she galvanized a young unit that lost its top veteran, Alyson Bowyer, early on. She helped turn defense into the Gators' strength. They posted 13 shutouts and allowed only five goals, including one in overtime to Bryn Mawr in the 1-0 tournament title-game loss. They allowed two goals in a game only once -- to Roland Park during the regular season -- but avenged that loss with a 1-0 victory in the tournament semifinal.

Krista Bowerman, Severna Park, senior, defense: The anchor of a senior-dominated backfield, Bowerman helped the No. 1 Falcons tie a school record with 15 shutouts. In one of the state's fiercest rivalries, the Falcons avenged last year's title-game loss by shutting out Westminster, which had held the top ranking all season. The Falcons allowed only four goals en route to the state title. Bowerman, an All-Anne Arundel County sweeper last year, moved up to center back and dominated opponents. Always quick to the ball, she used her crafty stickwork to find open space and clear the ball out of the back. A two-time first-team All-State selection and Futures veteran, Bowerman will play for Team Maryland for a second straight year.

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