2001 All-Carroll County field hockey

High Schools

November 27, 2001|By Rich Scherr

Player of the Year

Melanie Slessinger, North Carroll: Asked to score more this season, the senior responded in a huge way for the Panthers. She scored 11 goals and added 10 assists, both far and away the best in Carroll County, leading her team to a 12-4 mark, and county and Central Maryland conference titles. The four-year varsity starter had a major impact on the program throughout her career, leading the team to a pair of county and conference crowns, but this year stepped up like never before. A standout distributor, Slessinger had always been looked to for her assists, while others focused on scoring. After losing players to graduation, however, Panthers coach Denean Koontz asked her forward to shoot more. Slessinger answered the call, using her hard, quick shot and her ability to beat defenders to have her best offensive season.

Coach of the Year

Judie Puckett, Westminster: Puckett's squad finally cleared the hurdle that had been holding it back for the past two years. After losing to Walt Whitman in penalty strokes in back-to-back state semifinals, the Owls this year turned the tables on the Vikings, beating them in a shootout and going on to claim a share of the Class 4A state title, their first since 1996. Puckett, in her second year as coach after three years as an assistant, helped keep alive a long tradition of excellence at Westminster, which advanced to the state semifinals for the 15th time since 1983. To get there, the Owls showed their resiliency by first shaking off a pair of tough losses to county rival North Carroll, then topping Perry Hall and C. Milton Wright in regional playoffs.

First team

Lisa Engel, North Carroll: Engel racked up five goals and four assists for the county and conference champion Panthers. The left wing, whose primary attributes were blazing speed and impressive stickwork, made a habit of dribbling down the left side and crossing toward the middle, often setting up goals. The junior was a key contributor as her team finished 12-4 and beat 4A state champion Westminster twice.

Lydia Eppig, Westminster: A repeat first-teamer, Eppig was a force from her position at right wing. The senior scored two goals and set up numerous others, using her intense determination to get past defenders. She scored Westminster's only goal in regulation against Whitman, allowing the Owls to take their state semifinal game into penalty strokes and eventually triumphed. Eppig was one of two Carroll County players selected for Team Maryland.

Lauren Hart, Westminster: Wielding a stick she named "Stevie," Hart made a name for herself her senior season, using her exceptional speed to blow past defenders and ring up five goals and five assists as a forward for the co-state 4A champion Owls. The senior's successful penalty stroke in the state semifinals helped Westminster beat Walt Whitman and advance to the championship game.

Melinda White, Francis Scott Key: The county's second-leading scorer with seven goals and five assists, White was a huge offensive force for the Eagles all season, helping them to a 10-5-1 record. A sophomore, the forward consistently showed off one of the area's hardest shots, and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

Lenis Hare, Westminster: Though not a flashy player, the junior always seems to perform well for the Owls from her midfield position. The left link used her exceptional stick skills to consistently come up with the ball, creating scoring chances on offense. She also drew several fouls in the circle that resulted in Westminster penalty corners, a key component as the Owls made their run toward the state title.

Caitlin O'Meara, North Carroll: Her impressive stickwork made this center midfielder a tremendous all-around presence for the county and CMC champion Panthers. From her position at midfield, the senior dominated, sending the ball toward the offensive end and keeping it away from the defense. O'Meara proved a key link in the Panthers' transition game and also excelled on free hits.

Connie Wuenschel, South Carroll: South Carroll coach Erin Soulen calls her senior, "The most committed player I've ever worked with." Wuenschel, a second-team selection last season, led the Cavaliers with four goals and four assists, helping them to a 6-5-2 mark. The midfielder, who plays field hockey year-round, was one of two from Carroll County to earn a spot on Team Maryland.

Jen Bassler, Francis Scott Key: Bassler's defense was one of the main reasons the Eagles recorded eight shutouts this season. Using what her coach termed "amazing" stick skills, the senior often fought her way past two or three players to clear the ball. She also played well at the offensive end, helping set up several scoring plays.

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