Fallston gets past Northern, 1-0, to avenge last season's title defeat No. 11 Cougars gain final for 8th time in 11 years

Class 3A field hockey

November 10, 1998|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Fallston's Paula Priest said she has a tendency always to expect the worst so that she's never too disappointed. However, even if she had expected the best for yesterday's state semifinal, she would not have been disappointed.

The No. 11 Cougars attacked aggressively, scored early and held off Northern, of Calvert County, to avenge last year's title-game loss with a 1-0 win at Goucher College.

The victory sends the Harford County champs (14-3) to the title game for the eighth time in 11 years. They will meet Walter Johnson, a 1-0 winner yesterday over No. 8 North Carroll, for the Class 3A crown at 11: 30 a.m. Saturday at Goucher.

The Cougars are seeking their seventh title. Only Severna Park (10), Pocomoke (eight) and Bethesda-Chevy Chase (seven) have won more titles than Fallston, which last won in 1996.

Yesterday, Jeanine Tyler scored the game-winner on a penalty corner just 7: 22 into the game. Tyler deflected Kellie Watts' pass inside the left post too quickly for Northern goalie Colleen Zamary.

Even after the Cougars dominated the first half, Priest said she was still thinking, "I don't want to get my hopes up too high."

"Paula's the voice of doom," said Fallston coach Alice Puckett with a laugh.

Instead, Priest and Tyler led a dominating midfield effort that doomed any hopes of a repeat title for the Patriots (14-3).

"Because we're the underdogs, our win this year is twice as special," said Priest. "This year, we all play like a team rather than individuals like we did last year."

From the first whistle, the Cougars jumped all over the ball. Northern never got across midfield until after Tyler's goal.

"In the first minute, we had the best passing game," said Priest. "We got the ball and went straight to goal. Since we did lose to them last year, we wanted it more."

Getting the early goal was a nice change after the Cougars had to come from behind to win regional playoff games against Bel Air and James M. Bennett.

"Scoring first was huge for us," said Puckett. "In those playoff games, we got scored upon literally right off the bat. We were down, playing behind three minutes into the game. We bounced back, but playing behind is nerve-racking.

"It was really nice [to score first]. We were controlling the ball, passing the ball beautifully and we scored off a corner which is the way it's supposed to be."

Northern coach Mary Finley was not surprised at Fallston's fast start.

"I knew they wanted to come out and get us, because they thought they should have won last year," said Finley, whose team won, 2-0, last year.

In the second half, superb defense from Erin Nelson, Lisa Walls and Ashley Foreman held off several Patriots surges. Goalie Ashley Staples made three of her four saves in the period and Chrissy Brockmeyer also stopped a Northern shot.

The Patriots came close twice in the last 15 minutes. Once, the official whistled for a corner as the ball rolled over the goal line and later, Northern's Carrie Hance nearly connected with a perfect pass to the far post in the final two minutes.

For Puckett, who has taken the Cougars to the state tournament 10 times in 13 years at Fallston, this year's semifinal win was especially rewarding.

"I'm so proud of them, because it's been a season of continuous improvement," she said.

Although the Cougars have won 12 straight, Puckett said her team really came together in a 1-0 win over North Harford on Oct. 2.

"There was an emotion there I hadn't seen the whole season and I don't think they've let it go since then," said Puckett. "They've just gotten some confidence from things like scoring on corners, things that they work on at practice."

Pub Date: 11/10/98

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