Player of the Year: Hope Battista, South River
Getting past Battistaproved one of the mostdifficult tasks this season.
The senior put up a brickwall in the backfield and rarelygot beaten. With her stickskills, speed and defensiveinstincts, she led the Seahawksto an unbeaten regular seasonand into the Class 4A Eastregional final, where they fellto Severna Park in a shootout.
With Battista's leadership,the No. 4 Seahawks shut out10 opponents and allowed just10 goals in going 16-2. Shemade three stick saves andalso contributed seven goalsand six assists.
Battista didn't start playingfield hockey as early as manyother players in Anne ArundelCounty. She concentrated onsoftball until this season, whenshe opted to pursue hockey incollege and recentlycommitted to Georgetown.She played for the SPark clubteam at the U.S. Field HockeyAssociation's nationaltournament over theThanksgiving weekend.
Seahawks coach KatieCorcoran said one ofBattista's greatest assets isnever being satisfied with hergame.
"She just wants to improveher game every day,"Corcoran said. "Coming inher freshman year, starting herfirst game, she just had thisconfidence and thiswillingness to listen toeverything the coaches had tosay. She wouldn't let herselfthink she didn't have room toimprove."
As a result, her game keptimproving. Battista wasperhaps best known for herdrives. She had tremendouspower behind them and oftenignited the attack with a longball up the field. In addition,she had plenty of patience,perfect timing and a relentlessinner drive.
"She's just a smart player,and she's got great gamesense," Broadneck coach JenParks said. "She has a fantasticdrive, and I know that's onlyone very small part of hergame. She's great getting theball out of the circle, and shedoesn't get frazzled. She wassuch a leader for them."
The Anne Arundel CountyPlayer of the Year is also atwo-time All-Metro first-teamselection.
Allison Behringer, Severna Park
The central cog in the Falcons'midfield, Behringer played a keyrole in Severna Park's comebackseason -- from three regular seasonlosses for the first time innearly 30 years to the Class 4Astate championship. The seniorexcelled with her superb fieldvision, stick skills and constanthustle, often setting the No. 2Falcons' attack in motion. Herpassing was dead-on, and shewas a reliable finisher, scoringeight goals, including one in ashootout victory over SouthRiver in the regional final. Her 11assists tied for best on the team.A Futures veteranwho plays forthe SPark club team, Behringerhas committed to play fieldhockey and lacrosse atPrinceton.
Liza Blue, Garrison Forest
Never flashy but alwaysdependable and solid, Blueplayed her center midfield roleto little individual fanfare butgreat team success, helping theNo. 1 Grizzlies win theInterscholastic AthleticAssociation of Maryland AConference championship. Thesophomore showed exceptionalpoise and field presence for ayoung player and emerged asthe backbone of a team ladenwith underclassmen. Blue wasthe key to the Grizzlies'transition game with her blocksand precision passes. She couldalso finish, contributing a pair ofgoals and six assists. A veteran ofthe Futures Program, Blueplayed for Team Baltimore at thenational festival.
Sarah Cole, Bryn Mawr
A skilled player who wasexceptional at moving the balldownfield at top speed,Colewas the Baltimore City Player ofthe Year. She was adept atthrowing the defense off balancewith her deceptive moves andability to see several plays ahead.Cole proved so difficult to stopthat she almost always drewmultiple defenders, whosometimes got a little toophysical in their efforts to curtailher. The senior handled thepressure well, finishing theseason with 12 goals and fiveassists for the No. 6 Mawrtians.Cole, who played for ClubApplebee at the national festival,plans to play in college.
Shannon Hanratty, Broadneck
Perhaps the best defender in Bruins history, the senioranchored a unit that allowed justnine goals while shutting out10 opponents. Skilled and quickin the back with exceptionalpatience, the senior had thetiming and the defensive instinctsto play the ball at just the rightmoment. Hanratty could alsoplay like a second goalie on theline, making four saves for theNo. 3 Bruins, who won the AnneArundel County championship.She also was a strong leader onthe field, orchestrating thedefense and inspiring herteammates. A Futures veteranwho played for the SPark clubteam at the national festival,Hanratty plans to play in college.
Virginia Jorden, South River
A fearless, athletic goalie, Jorden saved theNo. 4 Seahawks several times this fall asthey went unbeaten through the regularseason. She also had some exceptionalsaves in the regional final, which ended in ashootout loss to Severna Park. The seniormade 62 saves and allowed just nine goalsfor an 87 percent save rate. She had10 shutouts in 18 games. Jorden madeseveral diving saves through the seasonand was remarkably quick getting back onher feet. She also had excellent clears. ASeahawks defensive leader, she proved astrong communicator and excelled atdirecting her defense. She plans to play incollege.
Sarah Parks, Centennial
Parks, the Howard County Player of theYear, holds all of Centennial's career andsingle-season scoring records. The seniorfinished her career with 53 goals and27 assists. She set the single-seasonrecord for goals with 22 last season, andshe added the assist mark this season with14. A finesse player with exceptional stickskills, Parks keeps the ball so tight on herstick that opponents don't have much of achance to steal it. This season, Parksscored 19 goals and had 14 assists to leadthe No. 11 Eagles to the Howard Countychampionship and the Class 3A statesemifinals. A repeat All-Metro first-teamselection, Parks has committed to playlacrosse at Dartmouth.
Lindsey Puckett, Fallston
A repeat first-team selection, the juniorshowed off all of her attack skills with athree-goal performance in a 5-1 victoryover Centennial in the state semifinals. The Harford County Player of theYear,however, was much more than a finisher forthe No.5 and Class 3A championCougars. Although she scored nine goalsand had six assists, Puckett most ofteninitiated the attack. With her perfectpassing, quick releases and superb timing,she could maneuver the ball herself or passto her teammates' sticks. An All-SouthRegion selection, Puckett is a Futuresveteran and three-time Junior Olympianwho played for the Strikers club team atthe national festival.
Ally Rager, Westminster
After three years at center back,the senior moved to the midfield.That gave her broader range toplay defense and contributemore to the transition game, asNo. 7 Westminster reached thestate Class 4A state semifinalsfor the first time in five years.Rager played almost everyminute for the Carroll Countychampions, who allowed onlytwo goals all season. Her fieldsense, stick skills, timing andhustle stood out so much thatcoach Mary Rivera said theOwls attackers complainedwhen they had to go three-on-oneagainst her in practice drills.The Carroll County Player of theYear plays for the Majestx clubteam and plans to play incollege.
Brigitte Strother, Broadneck
The first thing you notice aboutStrother is her speed. She canbeat just about everyonedownfield, and her teammatesoften fed her long passes thatshe could run onto. The skilledsenior led the Anne ArundelCounty champions with20 goals and five assists. Asecond-team All-Metroselection last season, Strotherscored the game-winner in a 2-1victory over South River in thecounty title game. A four-yearstarter and team leader, shealways inspired her team. Shefinished her career with 54 goalsand 15 assists. Strother, whoplayed for Team Maryland at thenational festival, plans to play incollege.
Amy Thompson, Glenelg
The speedy, skilled left wingfinished her career with 47 goalsand 10 assists to become theGladiators' all-time leadingscorer. But her value went waybeyond her ability to finish. Eventhough she drew theopposition's top defender, shewas still able to carry and sendthe ball down the left side,creating many of the No. 13Gladiators' scoringopportunities. Coach GingerKincaid said Thompson seemedto love the challenge of facing adouble team. A second-teamAll-Metro selection last season,Thompson is a Futures veteranwho plays for the Majestx clubteam and plans to play incollege.
Caitlin Walker, Fallston
Walker draws a lot of attentionfor wearing her hair high on herhead with a lot of ribbons, butshe draws even more attentionfor her excellent midfield game.The senior proved to be nearlyunstoppable while keeping theClass 3A state champs movingdown the left side of the field.Her stick work, deceptive movesand great work ethic gavedefenders fits. Walker, who hadfour goals and two assists, alsoscored some of the No. 5Cougars' biggest goals,including one in overtime to beatNorth Harford. A Futuresveteran who plays club ball withRising Sun's team, Walker hascommitted to play at Salisbury.
Name, School, Year, Position
Katie DiFilippo South Carroll Jr. Forward
Abby Lynch Arch. Spalding Sr. Forward
Caitlin Powers Towson Jr. Forward
Deanna Dydnski Mount Hebron Sr. Midfield
Brooke Griffin South River Soph. Midfield
Peyton Hawkins Bryn Mawr Sr. Midfield
Kim Schnell C. Milton Wright Sr. Midfield
Julie Gardner Severna Park Sr. Defense
Christine Knauss Garrison Forest Jr. Defense
Mandy Pace Hereford Sr. Defense
Abigail Bisbee Bryn Mawr Jr. Goalie
Emily Cain Garrison Forest Soph. Goalie
Honorable mention: Claire Brady, Century; Ashlea Carl,North Carroll; Jessica Crane, Chesapeake-AA; Celeste DiFerdinando,Hereford; Lauren Gottleib, Chesapeake-AA; KatieJones, Winters Mill; Amber Nichols, Westminster; BrittanyPalasik, Archbishop Spalding; Kaylee Pohlmeyer, SevernaPark; Lainey Rosson, Severn; Katie Vitale, C. Milton Wright;Tara Williams, Dulaney.
Note: Teams selected by Katherine Dunn after consultationwith The Sun staff and area coaches.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun