Severna Park goes back to title game

Field Hockey

November 06, 2008|By Mike Frainie | Mike Frainie,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Never let it be said that the Severna Park Falcons don't listen to their coach.

Before last night's Class 4A field hockey state semifinal at Arundel, Falcons coach Lillian Shelton told her team she wanted four first-half goals.

So what happened? The top-ranked Falcons (18-1) used an attacking offense that recorded 26 shots to build a 4-0 halftime lead over Montgomery County's Springbrook (13-2-1) en route to a 4-0 win.

Hannah Balleza led Severna Park with two goals, while Megan Kowalski and Madison Thomas each scored one.

"I just pulled the number out of my head," Shelton said. "We got the first goal really quickly, and then they did it."

Severna Park wasted little time getting onto the board. Within the first 10 minutes, the Falcons used goals by Kowalski, a senior (6:45 into the game), and Balleza, a junior (9:19 into the game), to build a 2-0 lead. Thomas (15:05) and Balleza (16:20) scored later in the half for the final margin.

"We didn't know a lot about this team, but we came with all we had," Balleza said. "We were a little nervous, and we had to keep it calm, so scoring [the first two goals] as early as we did really helped us."

The Falcons, who have won three straight state titles, will face Montgomery County's Quince Orchard in the Class 4A championship game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Washington College in Chestertown. Quince Orchard advanced with a 1-0 overtime win over sixth-ranked Westminster in the other semifinal.

Balleza, who scored both of her goals on deflections, said the camaraderie on the team is a huge factor in its success.

"We play well together as a team," she said. "We worked so had to be here, and we deserve this. At this point, we have tunnel vision. We know what we can do."

The Falcons have won 17 state titles since the tournament began in 1975. Shelton says it would be special to get No. 18.

"We played [Quince Orchard] last year in the final and beat them, 2-0," she said. "They have a good team, and they'll test us. This has been such a special season, and we don't want it to end. I think we'll be hungry for the win."

In the first semifinal, sophomore Leah Hunsinger scored 42 seconds into overtime to give Quince Orchard the victory.

The Owls (16-1) controlled the play most of the game and had several good opportunities to score as regulation ended. A shot from 10 yards in front of the goal by Amber Nichols eluded Cougars (13-3) goalie Rachael Lipman but went just wide of the cage as time expired.

Quince Orchard, which won the 4A crown in 2006 for its first state title, began the overtime in control. The Cougars advanced the ball into the offensive zone and got off a shot on the cage. The shot was tipped off the stick of senior Allie Ready, leaving Westminster goalie Emily Coliflower out of position and Hunsinger an open cage in which to score.

"It was definitely redirected, and I didn't have time to read it," Coliflower said. "I just didn't react fast enough."

Said Hunsinger: "I was trying to keep my stick down so I didn't miss the ball if the opportunity came. I saw the tip, and the ball came my way and I pushed it in."

Westminster coach Mary Rivera said that failing to cash in on their opportunities was the Owls' undoing.

"That's field hockey," Rivera said. "It came down to one goal. They got it, and we didn't. We had our chances [in regulation], and we didn't take advantage of them."

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