N. Carroll tunes up, silencing Liberty

2-0 win keeps momentum for Westminster showdown

Field hockey

October 17, 2001|By Rich Scherr | By Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In its final test before what figures to be one of the bigger games in program history, No. 13 North Carroll yesterday shook off a sluggish start to score two quick second-half goals on its way to a 2-0 win over host Liberty.

With the game scoreless, Christa Obriecht and Lisa Engel scored back-to-back in a span of 1:29 to put the game out of reach, sending the Panthers (10-3 overall, 5-1 county, 6-0 Central Maryland Conference) into Monday's winner-take-all county and CMC title game against No. 15 Westminster on a strong note.

"We've had a good season, and these seniors have worked hard for four years to be in a position to win," said North Carroll coach Denean Koontz. "That's been one of our focuses, and certainly it was one of our goals. Now we have a chance to accomplish those goals."

North Carroll will vie for its first county and CMC titles since 1998.

Although yesterday's game meant little on paper - North Carroll already had clinched a shot at both titles - the Panthers hoped to continue their local domination with regional playoffs fast approaching.

In this one, however, patience was the keyword.

"We tried to make adjustments at halftime based upon what their defense and what their goalie were doing," said Koontz. "It seemed to help a little bit."

The Panthers came out in a more aggressive posture to start the second half, making several passes toward the goal from beyond the circle in an attempt to give one of their forwards the chance to make a play.

The strategy paid off, with a pair of passes from Caitlin O'Meara resulting in goals.

For Koontz, the game was a microcosm of the season.

"Every person has contributed," said Koontz. "A ball gets behind the forwards, and the mids are there for it. A ball gets behind the mids and the defense is there to support. A lot of it is their work ethic in practice. They're a very hard-working team."

Leading the way so far has been county Player of the Year candidate Melanie Slessinger, who entered the day leading all county players in both goals and assists.

Though she failed to score against the Lions, the senior - who's been named to all-county and all-conference teams in each of her four years - did her part by creating several turnovers, often leading the attack.

Koontz said she was confident her team wouldn't overlook a game Liberty squad.

"We weren't going to worry about playing Westminster until we were done playing Liberty," said Koontz. "You never know what can happen in field hockey."

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