Player of the Year
Sara Zuckerman, Severna Park, senior, midfield: The Anne Arundel County Player of the Year completed a stellar three-year career by leading the No. 2-ranked Falcons (18-1) to their second straight Class 4A state championship and their 11th overall. A complete player with dazzling stickwork, Zuckerman was a second-team All-America pick last year and is a two-time first-team All-State pick. A three-year veteran of the U.S. Field Hockey Association's Futures Program, Zuckerman was selected this year to B Camp, just one step below the nation's elite field hockey players. She displayed her exceptional skills and instincts in every game, excelling at left midfield for the Anne Arundel County champs. Her uncanny field sense always had her where she needed to be. Once she gained possession of the ball, she always did something positive with it. She also contributed four goals and 11 assists. Zuckerman has an impressive field hockey background. She has played on two gold-medal regional Under-19 teams. In 1997, she played on an Under-16 U.S. team that toured Europe. She started her career at the Key School in Annapolis but entered Severna Park in the 10th grade. Her commitment to the game, combined with the school's rich field hockey tradition, proved a perfect match. "Sara's a great motivator who always keeps everyone psyched up," said Severna Park coach Lil Shelton. "She has incredible stickwork. She can keep possession and move right by someone, and also has a good one-touch to thread the ball up the sideline." Zuckerman, who has verbally committed to James Madison, played for the Washington Wolves club team at the USFHA's Hockey Festival last weekend in Palm Beach, Fla.
Coach of the Year
Alice Puckett, Fallston: Winning state championships is nothing new for Puckett, but this year provided her with one of the greatest challenges in her 16 years at Fallston. In August, Puckett had no expectations for reaching the state tournament. Her team was too inexperienced. "Our goal was just to contend for the county championship," said Puckett. "Anything else would have been a big bonus." But the No. 7 Cougars (15-3) responded by winning their last 13 games and the state Class 3A crown, 1-0, over Walter Johnson. That state title is just the latest entry on one of the area's most successful coaching resumes. Puckett's teams have won seven state titles, all since 1988. They have been to the state final four 10 times, including seven since 1990. They have swept every Harford County championship in the '90s. Puckett's career record stands at 194-35-13. This was an especially rewarding season for Puckett, who tinkered with her lineup to find the right combinations. One key move was shifting Chrissy Brockmeyer from the line to sweeper. Brockmeyer quickly absorbed defensive principles and along with back Ashley Foreman and goalie Ashley Staples meshed into a formidable unit. All along, the Cougars had one key asset -- speed -- which made them a threat at all times. Paula Priest and Jeanine Tyler emerged to dominate the midfield. Tyler scored both goals in the state tournament on corner assists from Kellie Watts. Puckett said it was all a matter of building confidence along with skills. "They never gave up on themselves," said Puckett. "I'm so proud of them because it's one thing to get to states and it's another thing to win it. We've had really good teams that haven't won and it seems that the underdogs can do it, but this was great. It was a sweet season."
First team at a glance
Jen Ahn, Bryn Mawr, junior, midfield: One of the most well-rounded midfielders in the Association of Independent Schools, Ahn enjoyed a terrific season at left link. She excelled at both attack and defense. With her stick skills and speed, she moved the ball quickly and was a key to transition for the No. 3 Mawrtians (15-1-5), who lost only to No. 1 Roland Park during the regular season. Ahn also scored nine goals, including one in the AIS A Division tournament final, which ended in a 1-1 tie and gained co-champ status with Roland Park. Defensively, the Futures veteran excelled with her anticipation and positioning. Ahn was the consummate team player and an integral part of both offensive and defensive corners. She was named first-team All-State.