Severna Park advances in OT, 3-2

Field hockey

High Schools


As Severna Park goalie Corinne Manuel watched North Carroll's Mandy Pickard set up for a penalty stroke in sudden-death overtime of yesterday's state Class 3A field hockey semifinal, she picked up a hint of where Pickard would aim.

Pickard fired the stroke high to Manuel's right, but the Falcons goalie leaped to deflect the ball with her stick, keeping No. 1 Severna Park in the game. A few minutes later, teammate Jill Puffenbarger finished off a long pass into the circle from Allison Behringer to give the Falcons a 3-2 victory over the No. 12 Panthers at Howard High School.

Severna Park (18-1) will go after its 15th state title next Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the University of Maryland's field hockey complex against the winner of tomorrow's other Class 3A semifinal between No. 6 Fallston and Northern of Calvert County.

Yesterday, the Falcons needed a big finish from Manuel and Puffenbarger to stop an exceptional North Carroll playoff run. The Panthers (14-2) were coming off a huge regional-final upset of Severna Park nemesis Bethesda-Chevy Chase, which beat the Falcons in last year's state final.

Had it not been for Manuel's athletic save, the Falcons would also have gone home early this year.

By the time Pickard stepped up to take the penalty stroke almost two minutes into the 10-minute overtime period, Manuel had had a good look at the senior midfielder's talents. Pickard scored both of North Carroll's goals - the second on some nifty stickwork and a 360 move in the circle.

Manuel, who had allowed only five other goals all season, called Pickard's goals "perfect" and was looking for any edge she could get on the stroke.

"Before I set up, I just knew," said Manuel. "I saw her body position and I thought, `She's going to be going to my right,' so I was like, `Everything behind that.' I was going to dive no matter what to my right. It was one of those textbook sort of strokes, perfect upper right-hand corner. Whew!"

"Oh my gosh, it was an excellent save," Pickard said. "That's where I've shot it all year, and it seemed to work every other time."

Manuel, who finished with five saves, had also stopped a couple of Stacy Slessinger shots earlier in the seven-on-seven overtime. After she saved the penalty stroke, the momentum switched sides.

The Falcons missed three shots before Behringer set up Puffenbarger one-on-one with Panthers keeper Becca Markle (eight saves). The senior worked patiently, got the opening and slipped the ball past Markle.

In regulation, the Falcons scored first on Hayley Rausch's goal to open the second half, but Pickard scored back-to-back to put the Panthers on top 2-1 with 9:30 left. Rausch finished off her 34th goal of the season with 6:36 to go to force the game into overtime.

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