With the reserves singing songs on the sidelines, and a team slogan of "Fear the Noodle," it appeared at times yesterday morning like the Fallston field hockey team was engaged in a party rather than contending for a state championship.
Under a festive atmosphere and playing before several hundred spectators, sophomore forward Kim Ziegler scored her ninth goal of the season to lift the No. 7 Cougars past No. 6 Mount Hebron, 1-0, to win the class 3A championship.
Fallston (15-2-2), which completed the season with 12 consecutive wins, won its ninth state championship and third in the past four years. On the way, the Cougars knocked off four-time defending 4A state champion Severna Park - which came down to 3A this season - in the regional title game.
"We're so cheerful," said Ziegler, who finished as the team's second-leading scorer with nine goals and three assists. "Our parents are the best. They're always there for us. The noodle, it's just our thing. One of the first games this year, two parents bought noodles and passed them out, and ever since then they've been there. It helps us get cheerful."
The Cougars dominated the second half after an even opening half in which both teams registered just one shot. Fallston recorded 11 shots after halftime and outshot the Vikings, 12-1, for the game.
"I just thought we played relentlessly in the second half, compared to the first half," said Fallston coach Alice Puckett, who has coached all nine of the school's title winners. "I thought we did a better job of putting the ball behind them, and we had them chasing the ball a little more than we did in the first half."
With 14:46 remaining in regulation, Fallston finally broke through when a loose ball came to Ziegler, who was 10 yards away from the goal. Ziegler slapped a hard drive that squirted past several defenders and Mount Hebron senior goalie Melanie Langmead (six saves).
"I looked up and saw everyone around me, we were all working together so well," Ziegler said. "The ball came to me and I took the shot as hard as I could. I knew [Fallston leading scorer] Riki [Reuben] was there. I knew no matter what, it was going to go in, because we were all there working together."
Mount Hebron (14-5), which had its six-game winning streak end, has never won a state title and has now lost in the finals three of the past five years.
"They were very much clicking, and we backed away a little bit in the second half," Mount Hebron coach Jeannette Ireland said. "We didn't cut their passing lanes down as much as we needed to, and their free hits hurt us. We knew what they were doing, but we just didn't stop it."