N. Carroll dumps Westminster, 2-0

Palmer's defense is big

Allen, Slessinger score

Field hockey

High Schools

September 20, 2001|By Nathan Max | Nathan Max,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Playing on a field hockey team with a high-powered offense, North Carroll back Ali Palmer does not always receive recognition she merits.

But yesterday, thanks in large part to Palmer's defense, goalie Brittany Wigley posted her third shutout this season, and No. 9-ranked North Carroll downed visiting No. 8 Westminster, 2-0.

Junior forward Pam Allen had a goal and an assist, senior forward Melanie Slessinger scored, and senior forward Shannan Carl registered an assist for a North Carroll (4-1, 2-1 Central Maryland Conference, 3-1 Carroll County League) team that has 19 goals in five games.

But Palmer clearly stood out.

Just 3 minutes, 43 seconds into the game, the Owls (3-2, 0-1, 0-1) had what would be their best opportunity - junior forward Janna Scott beating Wigley with a 5-yard shot only to see Palmer, on the goal line, clear the ball out of danger.

"I always make sure I have post," Palmer said. "We practice that, and I just made sure I got it out."

From there, Palmer - often the final defender to beat on Westminster breaks - was the spoiler, sometimes clearing the ball with unusually long hits.

"She had a very dominating defensive performance," said North Carroll coach Denean Koontz, whose team has allowed just two goals this season. "There were so many one-on-one fast breaks where she just made a clean tackle, came up with the ball and cleared it. She anchored a very nice defense today, without a doubt."

The Panthers took the lead 2:46 from halftime, when Allen slid a short pass to Slessinger, who rifled a 12-yard shot past Westminster goalie Emily Chamelin. Slessinger, North Carroll's leading scorer, now has eight goals and six assists this season.

The Owls generated little offense in the second half, and with 3 minutes remaining, the Panthers took a 2-0 lead. Allen, on a pass from Carl, drilled home a shot from just inside in the shooting circle.

"We have been moving the ball very well on attack," Koontz said. "The ball goes from the right side, to the left side, to the inside, and that allows us to pull the defense out of position and get some open shots."

The loss snapped a two-game Westminster winning streak and highlighted the team's scoring problems. The Owls have just three goals in five games, and all three of its victories have been by 1-0 scores.

"We obviously need to work on our scoring," Westminster coach Judie Puckett said. "We did a good job passing; it's just finishing. And we lost our momentum in the second half after they scored."

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