Fall All-metro Varsity

Field Hockey

December 13, 2006|By KATHERINE DUNN

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Amanda Himmelheber

Severna Park, midfield

Since she got serious about field hockey in the ninth grade, Himmelheber has always aimed high. Her goal is to play on the national team, and her superb all-around game has earned her a big step in that direction - a scholarship offer from national champion Maryland. The Anne Arundel County Player of the Year committed to the Terrapins after considering offers from 20 Division I programs. Her smooth stickwork, powerful drive, good speed and game smarts along with a team-oriented approach set her above the rest. "Her stickwork is phenomenal," South River coach Katie Corcoran said, "but I think one of her best qualities is working extremely well with all of her teammates. She's a leader on the field. You always hear her." Himmelheber stood out on the offensive and defensive ends of the field as well as in transition, where she could control a game. She scored nine goals and had five assists in leading the No. 1 Falcons to Anne Arundel County and state Class 3A championships. Falcons coach Lil Shelton called Himmelheber the quarterback of her midfield. She excelled at distributing the ball, sending her passes straight to a teammate's stick or into space where they could run onto the ball. "She was the heart and soul of our team," Shelton said. "I couldn't take her off the field in the big games. She had a lot to do with both the explosiveness and the smoothness of the team." Himmelheber, who first tried field hockey in Shelton's juniors program at 8, has played in the U.S. Field Hockey Association's Futures Program for three years. She was a Junior Olympian in 2004 and was selected to the Futures Elite level last summer. She has played with the SPark field hockey club for the past four years. A second-team high school All-American last season, Himmelheber is a two-time first-team All-State selection.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Jeannette Ireland

Mount Hebron

In her 17th season as Vikings head coach, Ireland faced a daunting task. With only one healthy returning starter, her team lost its first two games by a combined 8-0. "At that point, I could not focus on winning as much as on improving and correcting mistakes," Ireland said. "As long as we did that, I knew we could turn it around." The Vikings lost their next two games, too, 2-1 in overtime to Fallston and Centennial. Ireland said the Centennial game was the turning point, because the players felt they had let it "slip away." After that, the Vikings won seven straight. They didn't lose again until meeting No. 1 Severna Park in the Class 3A East regional semifinal. They came close, but fell 1-0, finishing 10-5-1. "This is the most rewarding season I've ever coached, because we have come so far," said Ireland, who wasn't even sure she would return to the team after her husband, Dick Ireland, suffered a stroke in May, but he is recovering well. Ireland, the Howard County Coach of the Year for a third straight season, has a career record of 167-68-17.

FIRST TEAM

Hope Battista

South River, defense

A leader through her skill and intensity, the junior guided a defense that allowed only six goals during the regular season. She led the No. 5 Seahawks to the Anne Arundel County final, a 4-2 loss to No. 1 Severna Park, and to the state Class 4A final, a 1-0 loss to Quince Orchard that ended a two-year reign as state champions. The Seahawks' defense revolved around their speedy center back, and she directed it well. With fine stick skills, Battista excelled at clearing the ball out of the circle. She was a goalie's best friend, making five stick saves. Battista had a powerful drive and used it to set transition in motion for the Seahawks (16-4).

Allie Emala

Bryn Mawr, midfield

The senior saved her best performance for last, scoring two goals to give the No. 3 Mawrtians a 2-1 upset of Garrison Forest for the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship. Known for her highly competitive streak, the Baltimore City Player of the Year scored three of her 11 goals in the postseason. A powerful and intimidating presence in the midfield, Emala sparked the transition game with skill and powerful hits. She was confident in her ability to do whatever the Mawrtians (16-3-1) needed, and that spread throughout the team. A first-team All-State field hockey selection, Emala signed early to play lacrosse at Virginia Tech.

Poppy Hall

Garrison Forest, forward

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