Edgewood's volleyball team has right stuff

Rams contending for title with 6-0 mark in Harford


High Schools

October 20, 2002|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Since the beginning of the season, Edgewood volleyball coach Frank Medley has been preaching the importance of the mental side of the game.

The No. 15 Rams have been listening, and it has them contending for the Harford County championship.

A 5-9 team last year, the Rams returned five starters for their first-year coach, who took over this season after two years with the JV. The Rams are now 8-2 overall and 6-0 in the county league.

"The girls I have this year really wanted to play," Medley said, "and I think they understand that volleyball is a mental game. Now, they're mentally prepared to win. When they think they can win, they play better."

Danielle Leader, a 5-foot-9 middle hitter, leads the team in kills, while Taisha Penn is the ace server. Kayla Brown handles the setting. Lemaire Dargan, Brandiss Taylor and Camil Macklin round out the starting lineup.

The Rams could all but seal up the county title if they can get by No. 11 C. Milton Wright on Tuesday night in Bel Air. The Mustangs are the only other unbeaten team in the league.

Medley said his players got a big boost from sweeping Fallston in three games after losing to them at the Edgewood Tournament in September.

"We're all nervous about [playing C. Milton Wright]," Medley said, "but my girls are ready to play them. The girls had a mission. They wanted to beat Fallston and Bel Air, and they did. This match has been their focus for the past two weeks. As long as they keep their focus, they'll do all right."

Familiar faces

If it's a big game in Baltimore County field hockey, it must be Towson vs. Hereford.

At least that's the way it has been for almost three years. The Generals and the Bulls have met six times in the past three seasons -- three times with something big on the line.

Towson beat the Bulls to win the Baltimore County crown last season, but they have knocked the Generals out of the regional final for two straight years -- last season in penalty strokes. The Bulls then went on to win a share of the Class 2A state title.

Tomorrow, the No. 1 Generals (12-0, 9-0) play host to No. 8 Hereford (10-2, 9-1) in the Baltimore County championship at 3 p.m. at Towson.

Hereford's only county loss was a 2-1 overtime decision to the Generals on Oct. 5.

"It's going to be just as intense and hard-fought as the first one," Towson senior back Hayley Mershon said. "They want revenge against us, and we want to keep our undefeated record."

How close is this rivalry?

Four of their past five meetings have been decided by one goal; the other was the shootout. Before the Oct. 5 game, every meeting since 1999 ended in a shutout. Since then, Towson has won four times and Hereford, three times.

"I'm guaranteeing a close game," said Bulls senior midfielder Sarah Tracey. "We step on the field and it's kind of like when friends battle it out. We have to win. That gets us more motivated to play. It's not to rub it in their face but just to come out with the victory."

This rivalry is one of the fiercest in Baltimore County and also one of the friendliest.

Towson coach Holly West and Hereford coach Tammy Mundie are good friends and handed out flowers to each opposing player before last year's county final. Many of the girls have played together in various leagues.

Tracey and Bulls teammates Sarah Heaton, Katherine Giauque and sisters Becky and Samantha Sebastian play on Team Maryland with Mershon and the Generals' Jocelyn Paul.

If the two teams meet again in the 2A North regional playoff final, Mershon and Tracey, who have spent all four years on varsity, would end up playing each other nine times.

Eagles take hockey crown

After graduating nine seniors, Owings Mills field hockey coach Shelly Katzef figured on a rebuilding season this fall. Her players had other ideas.

The Eagles won Baltimore County's Mallard Division crown with a 10-1 record -- slightly better than last season's 10-2 mark.

Tuesday's 2-1 overtime win over Sparrows Point sealed the division. Melanie Klein and Erica Freeman scored on assists from Sheri Fabian and Becky Konigsberg. Goalie Kati Ronnenburg preserved last week's 1-0 victory over defending division champ Dundalk with 10 saves.

After finishing second in the division last season, Katzef said, the Eagles were determined to overcome their youth and win it. The defense made that possible by posting eight shutouts.

"The true key to this team is our defense," Katzef said. "I returned a pretty experienced defense. Tricia Carroll, Rachel Schwarzchild and Katie Ronnenburg were all on varsity last year. That really helped and the leadership was great."

Carroll, a junior sweeper, made four stick saves this season, while Becky Bertell, a junior back, shut out some of the division's top scorers.

Konigsberg led the Eagles in scoring with eight goals and six assists, and Freeman had eight goals and five assists.

The Eagles now set their sights on the 2A South regional playoffs, where they reached the semifinals last year. They are seeded first, but second seed and defending regional champ Centennial is the team to beat.

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