Girls soccer perfection at stake tonight

No. 4 Severna Park to host No. 6 Arundel

Meade ends five-year field hockey skid

Notebook

High Schools

October 09, 2001|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Seems like there's another opponent waiting to knock off the Severna Park girls soccer team.

Tonight is no different as the fourth-ranked Falcons will play host to No. 6 Arundel at 7:15 p.m. in a matchup of undefeated county records.

The Wildcats are 7-0 in the county and 9-1 overall, its only loss to two-time defending Class 3A state champion River Hill last month. Senior striker Jessica Upchurch said Arundel has been waiting to play Severna Park, which has won the past three county crowns.

"Since we're the only two undefeated teams left in the county, this is a big deal," she said. "We've been ready for this game since the beginning of the season. All we want to do is beat them."

The Wildcats are blessed with a prolific trio of scorers in Upchurch (14 goals, four assists), sophomore striker Alli Wilkerson (11, five) and sophomore midfielder Melissa Hornfeck (12, two). But Arundel could miss junior sweeper Erika Blom, who hasn't played since turning an ankle in a 2-1 win against South River two weeks ago. She is questionable for tonight's game.

Mix in a losing streak to the Falcons that dates back to a 1996 Class 4A regional final, and one can understand why Wildcats coach Tom Degner is hopeful that the pressure doesn't affect his players.

"If they believe in themselves, they have a chance," he said. "If they run in the field in awe of the [Severna Park] name and record, it will be tough."

Meanwhile, the Falcons, last season's Class 4A state titlist, is also 7-0 in the county and 8-1-1 overall. Only three-time Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland champ St. Mary's has beaten Severna Park.

The Falcons likely will play without senior midfielder Lauren Montgomery, who won't return from a college visit until after tonight's game.

But Severna Park, which is led in scoring by sophomore striker Katie White (seven goals, two assists) and senior midfielder Erin Dubina (four goals), have been immovable on defense, allowing only seven goals and shutting out five opponents.

"We're know that we will have to be tough and work hard," said Falcons junior back Ashley Dugan. "Both teams are excited to play each other because both believe they are Number One."

First-year coach Gary Lam said he believes the game could turn on one significant play.

"Who gets the break, who runs after the ball, who works a little harder," Lam recited as the keys to the game. "The team that outworks the other is going to come out with the victory."

Taste of victory

The Meade Mustangs ended five seasons of frustration by winning their first field hockey game since 1996 - a 2-1 victory over Glen Burnie Wednesday.

"A lot of them had never won a game before," said Carrie Vosburg, Meade's first-year coach. "They didn't know what winning felt like until that day."

The Mustangs, who are 1-6-1 in the county and 1-9-1 overall, had prime chances two weeks ago when they dropped a 1-0 decision to Southern of Harwood on Sept. 24 and tied North County, 0-0, a day later.

Trailing the Gophers by a goal in the first half, freshman attack Brittany Stein tied the game at 1 with a goal 30 seconds before halftime. In the second half, Stein set up freshman midfielder Kelly Benik for the game-winner. Junior goalkeeper Tami Webster finished with three saves.

"The feeling of actually winning is absolutely incredible," said senior Kristin Russell. "To work so hard and finally have it come to you, it's just great."

Serving notice

Vindication keeps motivating the Severn field hockey team.

The No. 13 Admirals moved into the top 15 for the first time this season after upsetting then-No. 4 Park, 2-0, Wednesday and then-No. 9 Archbishop Spalding, 3-2, Friday.

Senior attack Whitney Gratrix, who scored the game-winning goal against the Cavaliers four days ago, said Severn has been itching to challenge the top-ranked teams in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland's A Conference.

"We kind of knew that we were the underdogs coming into the season and that we were overlooked by the newspapers," said Gratrix, who has three goals and four assists. "We knew that we had some speed and some talented underclassmen. We made it our goal to come out and get them."

Although the Admirals are 5-4 overall and only 1-1 in the Applebee Division of the conference, they are one of only two teams to have scored a goal against top-ranked Severna Park. And, hung tough in a 1-0 setback against Washington, D.C., private-schools powerhouse Holton Arms.

Conference opponents are getting the hint. Several St. Mary's players, fresh from an 1-0 upset of then-No. 3 Bryn Mawr Wednesday, were in the stands for Severn's win against Archbishop Spalding.

"I think [the back-to-back upsets] send a message that Severn is to reckoned with," said Admirals coach Carolyn Abruzzo. "I think after the score against Bryn Mawr [2-0 loss on Sept. 28], people didn't think much of Severn. I think people are starting to take notice."

Cramming for county test

With the county cross country championships on Oct. 26, teams are jumping at the opportunity to get valuable competition time.

Arundel will join 24 teams at the Westminster Invitational Thursday. The boys varsity race, which begins at 4:15 p.m., will feature a field that includes top-ranked C. Milton Wright, No. 6 Westminster, and No. 10 Oakland Mills in the boys division. Second-ranked North Carroll and No. 10 Glenelg headline the girls race, which is expected to start at 4:45 p.m.

The next day, Meade will welcome 15 teams to its Autumn Classic at Blob's Park in Severn. The boys varsity race begins at 3:45 p.m., and the girls varsity race follows 30 minutes later. The girls event will feature a showdown between No. 6 Towson and No. 7 Broadneck.

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