Grabbing the reins

Mount Hebron senior Courtney Reardon, an accomplished scorer, accepted a new challenge - a leadership role on a young team

Field hockey

November 01, 2006|By Glenn Graham | Glenn Graham,sun reporter

With quick looks left and right, and another one behind, Mount Hebron senior forward Courtney Reardon could have easily wondered whether she was in the right place when the Vikings took the field for their first game this fall.

There was no Sarah Cates or Lauren Sterner or Megan Bosica - each first-team All--County selections from last year who had graduated - or anybody else with experience as a starter on the field that day.

It was Reardon, who contributed impressively with 16 goals last season to help the Vikings win their second straight county title, and a new cast of varsity starters looking to make the most of their time.

"Last year, I kind of just followed along," Reardon said. "This year, I've had to step up and use the experience I gained from last year and put it into the games."

Reardon has welcomed the challenge of going from a secondary concern to the top priority for opposing defenses. She has enjoyed her role as a team captain, sharing her experiences with younger teammates and leading by words and example.

And this season has brought a different kind of reward.

After being a member of a team that went 15-2 and won a county title and then helping the lacrosse team to an undefeated season and state title in the spring, Reardon saw this field hockey season begin with four straight losses.

But with 10 goals and an assist coming from Reardon and the team finding its identity, the Vikings went into yesterday's regional playoff game against Severna Park with a 10-4-1 mark - going 10-0-1 in their past 11 games with their 5-1 win over Long Reach last week to open the playoffs.

"It's been different, and you learn to not take anything for granted," Reardon said. "[Losing] happens - it's part of playing sports. It just makes it so much more special when you go out there and work so hard to win."

A natural goal scorer, Reardon is fast and brings great stick skills and a hard shot, but what impresses Mount Hebron coach Jeannette Ireland the most about Reardon is her desire to take charge of the situation inside the scoring arc.

An indication came last season when a number of her 16 goals occurred when the team needed them most, including overtime game-winners against Centennial and Century.

"She's not afraid to take the big shot and, in fact, she knows the team expects her to take the shot," Ireland said. "I think it's like the Michael Jordan mentality where it's, `Give me the ball at the end of the game and I'll take the shot, win or lose.' Other girls may shy away from that."

There's nothing passive about Reardon when she finds her way in the scoring arc.

"She's just amazing when it comes to wanting to score," said sophomore wing Ashley Bruns, who also went into the week with 10 goals in her first season on varsity. "It's been an amazing experience for me to play next to her because she's so good on the field. Her attitude toward everything is great, and when she does mess up, she works that much harder the next time."

Reardon, who carries a 4.0 grade point average and plans on studying political science and then going to law school, said the needed combination for scoring in field hockey is the right mind-set and nonstop work.

"When I'm in there, all I think about is scoring," she said. "That's just what I want to do. Then you just have to follow the ball, and you can't give up. You usually don't score on the first shot, so you just got to keep going and stay persistent - you can't give up."

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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