Severna Park handles state title challenge Falcons claim 11th crown, hold off Magruder, 3-1

Class 4A field hockey

November 15, 1998|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Adversity is something the Severna Park Falcons hadn't come across much this season.

They rolled to their 20th Anne Arundel County championship and then went into yesterday's Class 4A state final game against Montgomery County's Magruder having outscored their three previous playoff opponents by a 10-0 margin.

How would the No. 2 Falcons handle themselves when the going got a little tough? Like the champions they are.

The Falcons claimed their 11th state championship and sixth in seven years yesterday afternoon at Goucher College in Towson, overcoming a fast and aggressive Magruder team to score a well-deserved 3-1 victory.

After a scoreless first half was played on even terms, the Falcons (18-1) were able to find what was needed when it counted most to successfully defend their state crown.

"At halftime, the seniors said 'This is our last half of high school field hockey, period. We have to put everything we have out there,' " said senior defender Julie Shank.

Even after the Falcons got that all-important first goal -- Jess Gaither's 14th of the season off their eighth penalty corner coming 10 minutes into the second half -- they still had work to do.

The Colonels, no strangers to Goucher after sharing the Class 3A state crown with Fallston in 1996, answered when senior Kate Finn scored from the right side with 9: 10 left in regulation.

The rest of the afternoon, and the season, belonged to the Falcons.

A little more than a minute after the Colonels (12-5) got the equalizer, sophomore Nikki Barnes pushed a pass across the goal mouth to senior Beth Davis, whose goal restored order for the Falcons.

"I think we all just realized this was the last game of the season and we needed to step it up," said Davis, who finished the year with 13 goals and five assists. "Nikki got that to me, I knew it would be coming and just wanted to be there ready for it."

The insurance goal, with 1: 48 left, was vintage Severna Park as Erin Shaklee found room down the right side before sending the ball across to Gaither, who finished promptly from 10 yards out.

"We came out confident, but maybe not totally prepared for the )) level of play [Magruder showed]," said senior standout Sara Zuckerman. "We put our skills, energy and heart into the second half and stepped it up. This was our goal and we just made a decision that we're going to do this."

And while all the attention is often centered around the Falcons' high-powered offense, the Severna Park defense certainly showed its worth, particularly in the first half when the Colonels put the pressure on. Shank was everywhere -- particularly strong as the flyer on the Colonels' penalty corner opportunities -- and plenty of support came from fellow defenders Kelly Adlam, Erin Hancock and Emily Higgs.

"The defense has been that way all season. A lot of times we just don't need it, but they rose to the occasion today. Julie, Kelly, Erin and Emily -- they all made a lot of good plays," said Severna Park coach Lil Shelton.

Shelton was pleased with her team's response after Magruder tied the game in the second half.

"We didn't get down, didn't hang our heads. It was fantastic. We just got it right back up there and lived up to the challenge. It all starts with the seniors, they were not to be denied today," she said.

Another fine season comes to an end with the Falcons, at Goucher, taking a team photo with the state championship plaque right there with them. They finished the year with 16 shutouts, outscoring their opponents by a 68-4 margin.

Pub Date: 11/15/98

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