Sticking together pays off with wins for Centennial No. 9 field hockey team faces county showdown vs. Mt. Hebron today

October 20, 1998|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

The public sees only one thing -- the record. And at 10-2 overall and a league-leading 7-0 in the county, Centennial's field hockey team is having an outstanding season.

But that's on the outside. The real success this season is on the inside -- the bond all 19 players have formed. This is one together team.

"This is the closest team I've been on," said Centennial senior Meghan McDonald, who also plays basketball and lacrosse. "Of all the sports and all the seasons, this is the best."

Centennial coach Gail Purcell agrees that this team is special, and credits the seniors for their leadership.

"The success of this season has to be whole heartedly given to the seniors, all 10 of them," said Purcell. "We start five seniors, which means that five are on the bench. Those five [on the bench] are there for the whole team. That's the difference between wins and losses when you have unselfish kids on your bench."

"It's been the greatest year of hockey for all of us," said McDonald, who was host for a pasta dinner for the team last night. "We've all bonded and are very close. That's the one thing I love about Centennial hockey -- the closeness. It makes it a lot more fun and I think it makes me play harder."

McDonald certainly will be playing hard this afternoon when the ninth-ranked Eagles play host to 10th-ranked Mount Hebron (8-4, 6-1). A victory for Centennial would clinch at least a tie for the county championship, and put them one win away from an undefeated county season. The regular season ends Thursday, and Centennial will play host to Glenelg.

If Mount Hebron beats Centennial and Hammond (8-1-1, 6-1) defeats Wilde Lake today, a three-way tie will develop. Mount Hebron plays at Oakland Mills and Hammond is at River Hill on Thursday.

Centennial, the only county team to have won a field hockey state title (1995), has six county titles, including three from 1993 through 1995. Mount Hebron has won the last two county titles, and a year ago was a Class 2A state finalist. The Vikings beat Centennial, 4-0, last season.

"I think the team that has more will is going to win it because both teams are evenly matched," said Mount Hebron's Katie Jeschke, who has a league-leading 10 goals.

Both teams are coming off one-goal victories last Friday in which they allowed their first goals in regulation. The Eagles hadn't allowed a goal against a county opponent all season until River Hill scored in a 2-1 Eagles' overtime win. Mount Hebron, which lost to Hammond, 1-0, in overtime in late September, downed Howard, 2-1.

Centennial's Liz Kurpe, who scored on a penalty stroke in overtime against River Hill, said being unscored upon in the county "definitely put a lot of pressure on our goalie and our defense. Now that pressure is off, and we can concentrate on more important things."

Jessica Manzone leads a balanced attack for the Eagles with seven goals and two assists. Melissa Dugan has five goals and three assists, followed by Jill Seewagen (four, three), Caitlin Marshall (four, two) and Kurpe (three, three).

Pub Date: 10/20/98

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