Player of the Year
Sarah Warner, Hereford, senior, midfield: No player meant more to her team this year than Warner. The center of everything the No. 11 Bulls have done for the past three years, Warner capped a splendid career by leading a young Bulls team (14-3-1) to their third straight Baltimore County championship, their third regional title and their first state crown in 20 years. A veteran of the U.S. Field Hockey Association's Olympic Development-style Future's Program and a regional All-American last year, Warner's game was comparable to that of the top private school players. She used her excellent stick skills and speed to move the ball quickly and easily through the midfield. At center mid, Warner was an exceptional defensive player and the key to the Bulls' transition. Not much got past her, but she could get past just about anyone. She also scored two goals and had 12 assists, mostly as an integral part of the Bulls' offensive corners. Perhaps her best assets were her ability to anticipate the action and her exceptional patience in setting up the next play. In addition to her skills and her contributions to each game, Warner has had a larger effect on the Bulls' program, one that could last much longer than her three years on the varsity. "Sarah jump-started this program," said Bulls coach Tammy Mundie. "What she's able to do on the field made the other kids envious and they wanted to step up to that level. They see her flying by two, three, four defenders and they think, 'Wow, how does she do that?' and they want to do that." A Junior Olympian and former member of the 16-and-under national team, Warner is headed for Western Maryland College where she plans to study pre-med. Named second-team all-state, Warner will play for the Central Penn Sharks club team at the USFHA's annual Hockey Festival in Palm Beach, Fla., this weekend.
Coach of the Year
Carol Samuels, Friends: In early September, Samuels was not too optimistic about the coming season. She had expected a large group of returning players, but that number quickly began to dwindle. One defected to the tennis team, another to volleyball. A third moved away. A fourth opted to coach the lower school team. A fifth had a stress fracture in her foot. That left three starters back on the field. "I didn't know if I had 11 players to put out there, because they were so inexperienced," said Samuels, "but they went to work proving me wrong." Unranked to start the season, the Quakers quickly emerged as a team to contend with. They rose to No. 5, posted a 15-4-2 season and reached the Association of Independent Schools A Division tournament semifinals, where they outplayed No. 1 Roland Park but suffered a 1-0 loss. In 16 years of coaching varsity hockey at Friends, Samuels has always had outstanding defensive teams and this one was no exception. The Quakers posted 14 shutouts and allowed just nine goals. And they had the attack to match, scoring 36 goals. Samuels credits middle school coach Judy Turnbaugh, JV coach Anne McGinty and assistant varsity coach Amie Wilmer with helping to build this team, but she molded the finished product. "What I try to do every season is to get the kids to understand their roles, so they don't have to try to be all-world. I match what they're able to do with what we need to do on the field, so the puzzle fits together." The Boston-area native and Ursinus graduate, who is in her 20th year at Friends, guided the Quakers to AIS titles in 1985, 1987 and 1991.
First team at a glance
Jen Ahn, Bryn Mawr, junior, midfield: A second-team pick last year, Ahn enjoyed an exceptional season at left link. The Futures veteran was a complete player, excelling on attack and defense. With her stick skills and speed, she moved the ball quickly and contributed nine goals for the AIS A Division co-champion and No. 3 Mawrtians (15-1-5). Her anticipation and defensive positioning also made her tough to beat. Ahn was named first-team all-state.
Lauren Aumiller, Notre Dame Prep, senior, forward: nior, forward: The Pirates' top player did a little bit of everything this season after being a second-team pick last year. She led NDP (8-8-1) in scoring and also contributed defensively, especially as the rusher on corners. An exceptional athlete with a powerful shot, she scored six goals and also added four assists. Selected for Team Maryland and to the second team All-State, Aumiller has signed early to play lacrosse at Virginia.
Laura Birx, Bryn Mawr, senior, defense: The top field player in the area's stingiest defense, Birx helped the Mawrtians post 18 shutouts. They did not allow a goal through their first 14 games and only two teams scored against them. Birx's exceptional speed and fiestiness enabled her to interfere with almost everything the opposing attack tried. She could change the direction of the game with her speed.