St. Paul's shows tournament form with a win and tie No. 5 Gators shut down Westminster, tie St. Mary's

Field hockey

Local sports

September 20, 1998|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

St. Paul's coach Eileen Alban originally scheduled yesterday's invitational tournament to help her team prepare for the always demanding Association of Independent Schools schedule.

Judging from the results, the fifth-ranked Gators appear to be ready.

Host St. Paul's outshot No. 2 Westminster and St. Mary's, 38-5, defeating the Owls, 1-0, before settling for a 1-1 tie with the Saints.

St. Mary's went on to defeat Westminster, 2-0, handing the Owls their second loss of the day.

Only a late goal by St. Mary's on a defensive breakdown prevented the sweep by St. Paul's.

The tie aside, it was the win over Westminster, a perennial state title contender, that set the tone for the day.

"We were able to beat them to the ball all over the field," said Alban, whose team outshot the Owls, 21-2.

After a handful of unsuccessful scoring attempts, the Gators (4-1-1) got on the board six minutes, 18 seconds into the game.

Jenny Landsman sent a crossing pass to Hilary Polk-Williams, who centered it to Jill Haak. Haak then hit a bullet that beat goalie Emily White to her right side to make it 1-0.

"Somebody hit it, then I turned around and smacked it in," said Haak.

St. Paul's controlled the game from the outset, keeping possession with its balloon offense and preventing Westminster from getting into the circle on defense.

"We couldn't generate our offense," said Westminster coach Brenda Baker, whose team has advanced to the state semifinals every year since 1989.

"We couldn't get in the circle, and that's where you need to be to score a goal. Luckily, our defense held strong the whole time."

The saving grace for the Owls (2-3) was goalie White, who made 18 saves for the game, including many spectacular ones.

The Gators appeared to score again with 5: 06 left, but referees ruled that Landsman's shot was taken from outside the circle.

The back-to-back games were the Gators' second and third in a span of 20 hours. On Friday, they defeated Oldfields, 10-0.

"I thought we were a little fatigued," said Alban. "It definitely took its toll."

That was evident against the Saints. The Gators struggled at times but took the lead on Polk-Williams' unassisted goal with 8: 40 left in the first half.

With 2: 38 to play, however, the Saints salvaged a tie when Elizabeth Von Sewarz took advantage of a defensive breakdown to score.

"We said that was the one thing we didn't want to happen, and it did," said Alban. "I think it was just a mental lapse."

Pub Date: 9/20/98

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