A little less than a year ago, Towson field hockey goalie Jessy Willse seemed on the verge of quitting the game.
At least that's what Generals coach Holly West thought after the unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Generals lost a regional final shootout to Hereford and its goalie, All-Metro Player of the Year Christina Restivo.
"I definitely had the feeling I had lost her, not just as a goalie but also to field hockey," West said. "That was such a devastating experience for her. She took it so personally."
Willse had never played in the goal until a few days before the 2001 season opener, but she was inconsolable after the shootout loss. Still, she said, she never really considered quitting.
"I'll never forget that afternoon," Willse said. "It was the most horrible afternoon of my life, but as I look back, I realize it was just one of those things."
After that, she resolved to become a better goalie. She went to a couple of summer camps and worked out on her own.
Tomorrow, she'll face her first big test when No. 3 Bryn Mawr travels to No. 1 Towson at 3:45 p.m.
Willse, now a senior and a team captain, allowed only two goals all of last season, but she also had one of the area's strongest defenses in front of her. She knows she's likely to be in the action a little more this time around. She's ready.
"Last year, we had a bunch of games where I just stood there. I'm glad to get more chances. Having that experience last year makes it a lot easier."
The Baltimore County volleyball season opens today without its three most successful coaches.
During a combined 51 years of coaching, Catonsville's Debbie Clem, Loch Raven's Carol MacPherson and Dulaney's Ian Blanchard accumulated 12 state titles, 23 regional titles and 18 county titles.
Clem retired after 23 years and one of the most impressive coaching runs in county sports history. She led the Comets to seven state, 13 regional and eight county titles. No coach has won more state volleyball championships.
MacPherson, who also retired after 23 years, led the Raiders to three state, six regional and six county titles.
Blanchard, now head coach at CCBC Catonsville, guided the Lions to two state, four regional and four county crowns in five years.
Their departure leaves Towson's Jayne Lacy as the only active county coach with a state title on her resume. The Generals won the state Class 2A crown last season.
Gilman senior Z. Ross Fragapane, a center midfielder on the Greyhounds soccer team who kicked two critical field goals for the football team in last week's 12-3 upset of DeMatha, had kicked a goal in a scrimmage earlier that day against Park School.
Fragapane, 18, approached Gilman football coach Biff Poggi 10 days before the game about being the Greyhounds' kicker. During the game, he wore pants that were faded from a washing job gone awry.
Fragapane never had worn shoulder pads until the day of the game, and, afterward, had to be helped out of a jersey that a teammate helped him to put on.
Top soccer at AACC
Five of the metro area's top 10-ranked girls soccer teams - including the top three - will be at Anne Arundel Community College for the two-day Pioneer Shootout starting this afternoon.
The tournament kicks off with No. 1-ranked St. Mary's taking on No. 7 South River at 3:30. Broadneck will try to knock off No. 2 River Hill at 5:30, followed by No. 3 McDonogh against No. 8 Arundel at 7:30.
Tomorrow's action also will get started at 3:30, with River Hill meeting Arundel. One matchup missing this year: No. 1 St. Mary's vs. No. 2 River Hill.