Just one goal would help Field hockey: Strapped for players, Atholton's young, 0-11 team would like to score its first goal in today's finale.

October 22, 1998|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

They laughed. They smiled. They had fun.

Yesterday was the 10th annual Halloween hockey day at Atholton High School. The players did their part by coming in costume. Senior Maureen O'Hagan wore 5-inch heels and a very short outfit.

"This is great. It's a lot of fun," said O'Hagan, who later changed into clothes she could practice in. "It brings the team together."

Just 24 hours earlier, on the same field, O'Hagan wasn't so happy. "It was my last home game, and it was really upsetting, because I at least wanted the team to score," said O'Hagan of Tuesday's game against River Hill. "I cried after the game."

Atholton hasn't scored in 11 games. That's 11 shutouts; 11 losses.

The Raiders have lost four 1-0 games. The first was to Hammond on Oct. 2, in the team's best game of the season. The others came in the last eight days to Glenelg, Wilde Lake and River Hill.

Today is the regular season's last day. The Raiders visit Long Reach (6-7 overall, 4-4 league) in search of a goal -- and a win.

"Just to get a goal would be awesome. It would mean so much," said O'Hagan. "I don't care who scores as long as it goes in."

"That would just be everything," said sophomore Jenni Grishman, who plays attack. "It would make the season."

In 1995, Atholton and Centennial tied for the county title. Since then, the Raiders, who then lost players when River Hill opened, have gone 4-4-1 (1996) and 3-3-3 (1997) in the league.

Atholton has 14 players (five seniors, three juniors, six sophomores) on its varsity. Against River Hill, only 12 were available, leaving one substitute.

Junior Emily Benson had a ball hit her just above the lip on a free hit against Centennial Oct. 9, and repairing the damage required 16 stitches. She is out for the season.

Sophomore Cindy Gay broke her right ring finger in practice Monday and hopes to return for the playoffs next week.

Atholton coach Carol Stevens knew that starting five sophomores with only JV experience would make the season challenging. She has been more teacher than coach.

"I tell the girls that they need to walk away with more skill then they had the day before," said Stevens, whose team has lost five 2-0 games. "They have to learn something from practice, or it hasn't been worthwhile. I think they have seen changes, and I have made sure to point our their progress.

"This is in no way a losing season. Absolutely not. I don't call it a rebuilding season. I call it a learning season."

O'Hagan, a team captain, has seen the improvement. "We've improved so much. It's unbelievable," O'Hagan said. "We still haven't scored, but we've gotten better."

Stevens said the lack of second and third shots has been a main reason the Raiders haven't scored.

"It seems that one person is in [the circle], and it needs to be a team effort," said Grishman.

The season has been extremely frustrating to senior goalie Shannon Sullivan, who now is battling strep throat.

"After a while I felt like it was my fault that we were losing," said Sullivan, who had a school-record 33 saves against Hammond. "I felt that if I just could have stopped that one ball, maybe we could have gone into overtime and scored.

"But Coach Stevens told me it's a team sport, and if they can't do what they need to do and I'm doing the best I can do, then I shouldn't put myself down."

O'Hagan has shifted from defense to offense the last two games, changing her perspective.

"It's been a little bit frustrating [for the defense], but when I moved up to forward I saw it a different way. Everyone is trying. There really hasn't been that much finger pointing. I think we all have our frustrated moments, but we all get along great, and we never take it off the field."

Said Stevens: "To be able to have 11 losses and still pick your head up and still try your hardest really shows their self-worth. They know there's a turning point -- and that it's coming."

Pub Date: 10/22/98

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