Falcons play for 11th title tomorrow 'Goucher' gives players, motivation, says coach

Magruder is opponent

Field hockey

November 13, 1998|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

One word, year after year, helps drive the Severna Park field hockey team.

"Goucher," said Severna Park coach Lil Shelton.

Towson's Goucher College has long been the home of the state field hockey playoffs and the home away from home for the No. 2-ranked Falcons, come November.

Dating to 1979, the Falcons have made 18 state playoff appearances, and at 2 p.m. tomorrow, they will go after their 11th state title against Montgomery County's Magruder in the Class 4A final.

"There's nothing like Goucher. That one word is about being the best we can be," said Shelton. "All we have to say is we're going to Goucher, and the kids are all excited getting on the bus ride there. It's the epitome of perfection, and that's what everyone strives for."

The Falcons (17-1) have been near perfect once again this season, outscoring opponents 68-3 with 16 shutouts, including Monday's 6-0 win over Dulaney in the state semifinal.

Only Rockville's Magruder, a sudden-death, penalty-stroke winner over Gaithersburg's Quince Orchard in the other semifinal, stands in the way of a sixth state crown for the Falcons in the past seven years.

"The last thing I'll tell them is to have fun and enjoy the day. They're ready, and there's not much more we can do," said Shelton. "We just have to play our game. If we try to match up with other teams, we get out of our mode. So we don't concentrate on trying to change our game to fit another team's pattern."

The Colonels, who shared the Class 3A state crown with Fallston in 1996 before moving up to Class 4A last season, will have to contend with a Severna Park attack that will come at them from all directions.

Erin Shaklee (15 goals seven assists), Jess Gaither (13, 7) and Beth Davis (12, 5) lead a potent Falcons attack, with Sara Zuckerman (4, 11) the strong link at left midfield.

Assistant coach Sue Behringer has the defense, led by Julie Shank, strong and cohesive, as usual.

Magruder (12-4) has six seniors who played on its 1996 state title team. Kathleen Mulholland, Magruder's coach for eight years, said that experience already has paid dividends in the Colonels' semifinal win against Quince Orchard.

Senior Katie Shanahan provided the game-winner in sudden-death of the penalty strokes.

"We've been there and know what to expect. From an emotional aspect, we went into the penalty strokes against Quince Orchard calm and relaxed," said Mulholland. "Severna Park has always been rock solid. They play a good solid game all the way through and capitalize on their opportunities. We'll need to capitalize on our chances, be relentless on defense and be quick in transition."

Junior attacker Melanie Esders, who has 16 goals and seven assists, leads the Colonels. Kate Finn and Katie Seek provide transition at midfield, and Cori Wendel is a defensive standout.

Pub Date: 11/13/98

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