Hammond blanks Mount Hebron, 2-0

Golden Bears handle a bumpy road to arrive again in state tourney

2A girls soccer

High schools

November 10, 1999|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Hammond has it. Call it chemistry, call it luck, call it fate. There's something there, and the Golden Bears have harnessed it to propel them to the state tournament for the second year in a row.

Playing five sophomores in the back, Hammond shut out ninth-ranked Mount Hebron, 2-0, last night in the Class 2A South region championship game at Howard. Senior midfielder Natalie Trancucci scored her first varsity goal three minutes into the second half, and freshman Heather Steele, called up from the JV for the playoffs, clinched it in the final minute.

The 14th-ranked Golden Bears (11-5-1) will play unranked Loch Raven, a 4-2 winner over No. 8 Hereford, at 7: 30 p.m. on Friday in the second game of the state semifinal doubleheader at Loch Raven.

A year ago Hammond had 11 seniors and, thanks to three shootout playoff wins, earned the Class 1A state title. Everything went right.

This season the Golden Bears lost forward Katie Fink (broken leg) in the fifth game (Sept. 28) and sweeper Sarah Walker (knee injury) in the seventh game (Oct. 5). They also mourned the death of coach Pete Di Marco's mother, Maria, who passed away Oct. 9.

"It's been hard on everybody because of what's happened," said sweeper Ashley Pietryka. "We wanted this so bad for all the bad things that have happened to us."

Hammond, which upset then-10th-ranked Centennial, 1-0, in the region semifinal, has little flash but plenty of substance.

Senior midfielders Martha Bielefeld and Meg Tilley, both of whom had assists last night, are solid, steady performers who command their teammates' respect. Sophomore Melissa Workman is a physical presence in the middle and defenders Pietryka, Jacqueline Bielefeld, Megan Blair, Jenny Osborn and goalie Tara Zammichieli have bonded to help register nine shutouts.

"The same chemistry that we had last year is evident again this year," said Trancucci. "Everyone likes each other and is working well together, and it all contributes to how we play."

Di Marco told his players at halftime that they needed to score first to win, and they responded quickly. Martha Bielefeld, standing on the left side roughly 40 yards out, sent a free kick toward the middle. Trancucci settled the ball, turned to her left and sent a left-footed shot into the far corner.

Mount Hebron (11-4-2) picked up its pace after the goal and repeatedly pressured the Hammond defense. Senior Katie Elliott, who started at sweeper, moved up late in the game to help the offense.

"After they scored, they packed it in and it was hard to score," said Mount Hebron's Julie Napolitano. "Every shot, every corner, it always hit one of them."

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