Glenelg's No. 11 field hockey team had plenty of motivation for winning yesterday's game against Mount Hebron - the defending Howard County champion wants to play this year's title game on its home field.
A high-scoring team that prefers a fast field like its own, the Gladiators were slowed a little by the Vikings' dense Bermuda grass, but it didn't stop them from scoring.
Lauriann Parker had two goals and an assist to lead the Gladiators to a 3-1 victory on senior day at Mount Hebron. Glenelg goalie Courtney Knill made eight of her 12 saves in a first half dominated by the Vikings.
The Gladiators (9-3) have outscored their Howard County opponents 59-6 and are 8-0 in the county. With two games left, they have beaten their top two rivals, No. 15 Centennial (10-2, 7-1) and Mount Hebron (7-4, 6-2.)
"This means a lot, because assuming we win the rest of our games, we're guaranteed county championships at home," Knill said
"Our field is so different than everyone else's. Everyone else's is this lush beautiful grass and ours is dirt. Our field is so fast. We play such a fast game."
The Vikings controlled the early minutes yesterday with four penalty corners, but the Gladiators broke through when Parker fed Brie Kitchelt with a crossing pass with 12:14 to go.
Knill made the lead stand up with a couple of nice saves on the next Vikings corner and another one early in the second half before Parker scored off Lauren Giraldi's free hit.
The Vikings scored on their ninth corner when Deanna Dydynski nailed a pass from Rachel Smith from the top of the circle with 20:08 left, but the Vikings didn't get many chances after that. Parker added an insurance goal with 7:52 left on a cross from Rachael Leaf.
"They have really good stick handlers and their forwards are really good at getting it up the field," Dydynski said. "They're really fast, but I think we did a really good job sticking with them.
"We're really good at getting up the field, too. We just have a problem of finishing, but we've been working on it really hard at practice to get that extra push we need to get it in the goal."