Arundel girls match speed against Sev. Park today

Wildcats, Falcons meet for girls soccer title


October 23, 2001|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Speed and youth versus experience and leadership.

That could be the billing for the girls soccer county championship game between fourth-ranked Arundel and seventh-ranked Severna Park when they clash today at 5:15 p.m. at South River High School.

Arundel is the upstart - a young, brash squad that relies on the fleet feet of sophomore striker Alli Wilkerson (17 goals and six assists), senior striker Jessica Upchurch (15, 8), and sophomore midfielder Melissa Hornfeck (14, 6).

It's a formula that has helped the Wildcats outscore their county opponents, 61-9.

"Using our speed is obviously our strength," said Arundel coach Tom Degner, whose squad hasn't defeated the Falcons since 1996. "But I have a feeling that it's going to be more of an attitude thing. "

Severna Park is the grizzled veteran - a team that doesn't panic and can weather the pressure of trying to capture its fourth consecutive county title.

While sophomore striker Katie White leads the team in goals with eight, the Falcons have built a defensive foundation of senior Jessica Reed, juniors Ashley Dugan and Megan McIntyre, sophomore Haley Cramer and junior goalkeeper Brooke Shinaberry that allowed just five goals all season.

"Obviously, we're going to have to shut down Wilkerson and Upchurch and contain Hornfeck," said Severna Park coach Gary Lam.

Neither team is entirely healthy. Severna Park will miss junior midfielder Susan Seaborg, who fractured her hip in a 2-0 Falcons win against Arundel two weeks ago. The trio of senior midfielder Sara Adcock (illness), senior defender Casey Russell (bruised knee) and junior sweeper Erika Blom are questionable for Arundel.

Supporting roles

At Severna Park, the varsity and junior varsity field hockey teams don't just co-exist - they entertain each other.

During halftime of every varsity game, the JV squad cheers on their varsity teammates by breaking out into song and dance in the middle of the field.

Similarly, the varsity team puts on a brief show during the JV game. Why?

The idea is the brainchild of varsity coach Lil Shelton, who began the practice in 1975. Shelton said she was dismayed at the chasm between the varsity and JV squads she had noticed on high school teams.

"I have seen so many teams where the varsity didn't pay any attention to the JV," she said. "I didn't like that."

So the two squads watch each other's games, eat dinner together and practice with each other - sometimes to the benefit of the varsity team.

"We usually scrimmage together," said senior goalkeeper Michelle Swartz. "Sometimes, they give us a run for our money."

You've got to have hearts

The official team colors of the South River field hockey team are navy and light blue. Add a little bit of red to that mix.

Since last season, the Seahawks spend a little time before each game using a red marker to draw red hearts on the upper parts of their right arms.

South River coach Laura Gerrior said the idea came from former coach and current girls lacrosse coach Kim McNemar, who urged the team members to "play with heart."

"It's a little superstition we have," Gerrior said. "But I think it proves to them that they have to give all they've got if they want to be successful."

Makes sense. Last season, the Seahawks claimed the Class 3A state championship.

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