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The Baltimore Sun

All-county field hockey: Parker is simply the best

In its third telling, the story isn't fresh, but it's still worth revisiting. Growing up Alyssa Parker wanted to be a soccer player, the next Mia Hamm. Failing that, basketball was her second love.

"I wanted to play basketball at Maryland. That was the dream," she said.

There's a basketball court at her house and some worried that she might be lured to a private school to pursue her basketball passion.

Instead, she followed her older siblings to Glenelg. Her freshman year was her sister Lauriann's senior year.

Their parents, Doug and Jean, had started the Howard County Stampede youth hockey team. Lauriann liked the sport; Alyssa not so much. Too slow, she said.

Then as she watched Lauriann play at Glenelg, and attended the field hockey booster camp there, she saw hockey in a different light.

"I saw how it was faster and took a lot more skill," she said. "In field hockey you have to use all of your teammates and be smart. I liked the challenge."

Alyssa worked hard so that she could make the varsity as a freshman and play on the same team as her sister.

"Lauriann taught me my place," Parker says. "I wasn't going to shoot as a freshman. It was pass the ball to the open senior."

That philosophy has been in place ever since — pass to the open senior. "Personally, I really like the assists," Parker said. "I just like giving the ball to my teammates and incorporating them and not making it all about myself."

In her four years on varsity, Parker has recorded phenomenal career statistics — 114 goals and 108 assists. She is thought to be the second girl in the nation to surpass the 100-100 mark.

Named the Columbia Flier/Howard County Times field hockey Player of the Year for the third consecutive year, Parker is simply the best.

The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun have made her their Player of the Year for the second year in a row.

Yet Parker is unfailingly humble; it's not about her. Examples: "We don't care who scores, just get the ball over the goal line." "I couldn't have done it without my teammates." "We wanted to win this year's state championship for Miss Kincaid."

Ginger Kincaid had to force Parker to take the game ball after her 100th goal and her 100th assist. "Someday you'll realize how big this is," the coach told her.

Glenelg field hockey has always been good, but Parker helped take the program to a different level. "She definitely was the heart and soul and the driving force of our team," Kincaid said. "Mary Kate (Olson) was her silent partner in it all and I would hate to think how we'd be without them."

Parker was a magician with her stick. She has great timing. She knows how to play a defender and get them to bite, then she explodes by them with a dodge. She knows how to vary her speed, how to stop the ball on a dime and reverse stick it into the upper corner of the goal cage.

She was the catalyst for the greatest era in Glenelg field hockey — four county championships, one District V title, one state semifinal appearance and back-to-back state titles. The team scored 151 goals this year and 136 last year.

"Alyssa just loves to play. You can see it in every step she takes on the field. Watching her is like watching unbridled joy," Kincaid said. "She loves to do the little things of the game and it all adds up to her being a great player."

Parker had 37 goals this season, but only twice did she have four goals in a game.

"We never really unleashed her. I can't imagine what she would have been capable of if we had turned her totally loose," Kincaid said.

Last spring, Parker started down the path that has made her a member of the United States' U-19 field hockey squad. In January, she will spend a week at the Olympic Training Center in California trying to make the U-19 traveling team.

"I think going and playing at the next level recharged Alyssa," Kincaid said.

It certainly has enhanced her growth as a hockey player, but as hardcore as she is about hockey, Parker likes to bring some fun to it. One of Kincaid's favorite memories of the season was prior to the state championship game when Parker and her teammates were dancing and singing in the Washington College locker room.

Parker was recently named to the 2011 Harrow Sports/NFHCA High School All-American First Team. She has a full scholarship to play field hockey at the University of Maryland. The Terrapins are two-time defending national champions.

"I don't think Alyssa's tapped out. I'm looking forward to see what she can do" at Maryland, Kincaid said.

Named to the all-county first team are:

Forwards

Molly Fleming, Marriotts Ridge senior. A three-year varsity player, Fleming played wherever the Mustangs needed her. Her first year, it was at right wing. As a junior it was at midfield. This year she was back to wing where she scored 11 goals and had nine assists. She used her speed and strong cross to help fuel the Marriotts Ridge offense.

"A couple of our 1-0 games, Molly scored the winning goal," coach Stacie Gado said. "In another 1-0 game, against Atholton, she had the assist."

Although she'll play lacrosse in college, Fleming has written her name in the Marriotts Ridge field hockey record book. She is the school's all-time leading goal scorer (24) and has 12 career assists.

Meagan Guthrie, Glenelg, senior. The Gladiators right inside, an integral part to the team's forward line, scored 20 goals to go with 14 assists.

"Meagan shows up for the big games, she's not just scoring when there isn't a challenge," coach Ginger Kincaid said. "She is such a competitor and has such a nose for the goal."

Guthrie scored two of Glenelg's three goals in this year's state championship game, which Glenelg won, 3-0.

Guthrie, who will play college lacrosse, ends her high school field hockey career with 32 goals and 21 assists.

Meghan Milani, Glenelg, senior. Glenelg's left inside had the dirty job position when Glenelg was in the circle. She played with her back to the goalkeeper and tipped the ball left or right to a teammate.

"Meghan was a set-up player for us. With her great eye-hand coordination, she was perfect for that position," Kincaid said.

Milani, a scholarship lacrosse player, had 19 goals and 14 assists this season. In her two years on varsity, she scored 24 goals and had 17 assists.

Katja Randazzo, Howard senior. A three-year varsity player, Randazzo was the speedy wing who carried the ball up the sideline.

"Our biggest problem all year was finding someone to keep up with her," said coach Kristen Vance.

Randazzo led Howard's offense with 14 goals and eight assists. She was named the team's Offensive Player of the Year.

She had another vital role, too. "Katja was one of our team captains and she was probably our team motivator," Vance said. "There were many halftimes where I would say my piece and then Katja would take her team, as I would say, and talk to them. She was a leader with her words and her actions."

Kat Varga, River Hill junior. The Hawks' right wing scored 20 goals and had seven assists. Her speed and ball handling made her a standout. She is a two-year starter.

"Kat is the best player I've ever had," coach Shelly Chamness said. "She doesn't just feed the ball, she makes goals happen."

Chamness said Varga was selected for the National Futures Elite Championship. "She's the only player I have ever had to reach that level."

Tianna Wallpher, Mt. Hebron, sophomore. Wallpher had a skill set to play well beyond her years. On the right side, she and teammate Sam Brookhart worked the give-and-go to get the ball into Mt. Hebron's attacking circle.

"Tianna was absolutely relentless. She's an amazing hockey player," coach Jeannette Ireland said. "She was the key to our attack. She made our attack work."

Wallpher had 18 goals and 11 assists. One of her tallies was the sudden-victory overtime goal that put Mt. Hebron in the state championship game for the first time in 10 years.

Midfield

Kelly Jones, Mt. Hebron senior. Mt. Hebron's season ended prematurely a year ago and Jones was one of the driving forces to make sure that did not happen again. The Vikings reached the Class 3A state championship game before losing to Westminster in the second sudden-victory overtime.

Technically a midfielder, Jones had no boundaries. "Kelly went sideline to sideline, endline to endline," said Ireland of her best player.

In the state championship game, Ireland recalls hearing the Westminster coach tell her players, "Get the ball away from No. 4." That was Jones.

"Kelly and Tianna (Wallpher) were our heart and soul. They were just amazing; they were the key to our success," Ireland said.

Jones, who had six goals and six assists, was chosen by her teammates as the team's MVP.

Mary Kate Olson, Glenelg senior. A four-year varsity starter, Olson is a remarkable hockey talent. This is her third all-county first team honor.

"Mary Kate is probably the most skilled player on the team," Kincaid said. "Alyssa (Parker) is the best athlete, but Mary Kate is the best field hockey player."

Olson dominated the left side of the midfield this fall with her incredible stick skills. She was a bulldog on defense, tormenting opponents with her tenacity and her block tackle.

Although she has 35 goals and 19 assists in her career, Olson, the inserter on Glenelg's corners, focused more on defense this season. Named first team All-Met by both the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun, Olson will continue her field hockey career at Franklin & Marshall.

Emily Russo, Glenelg junior. Quiet and polite to the core, it's to hard imagine that Russo is considered a "beast" once she steps on a hockey field. In Glenelg's midfield, she's the right side complement to Mary Kate Olson and she is best known for running down people on fast beaks in the midfield.

"Emily is tenacious," Kincaid said. "She puts four thousand percent into every game she plays. She has two speeds — on and off."

Opponents only see the "off" speed once the game is over.

Russo, a three-year starter, is explosive through her dodges, which helps her get the ball upfield in transition. On the season, she had five goals and seven assists.

Pauline Shih, River Hill senior. Shih controlled the Hawks midfield and its transition from offense to defense. "She was so impressive, almost every coach or official said something positive about her after every game," Chamness said.

Shih filled many roles for the Hawks. With five goals and five assists, she could contribute to the offense. She was the fly on defensive corners. Chamness changed River Hill's offensive corners to make Shih the decision-maker.

"Anything I've ever asked Pauline to do she did, and she does everything really well," Chamness said. "I don't want her to leave."

Although Shih will play for Miami of Ohio, she is leaving a little bit of herself behind. She shared the advanced skills that she learned on her club team with her River Hill teammates.

Defense

Lindsey Dewey, Mt. Hebron junior. Dewey was Mt. Hebron's only returning defender, a fact that led to a rocky start on the season. But she quickly trained those around her to work as a cohesive unit.

"Lindsey was my shutdown player," Ireland said. "She's just has a really solid stick. The ball doesn't deflect off her stick and if the ball is anywhere near where she is, she's going to come up with it."

Dewey stopped opponent's crosses, protected the post defensively and was great at helping the goalkeeper clear the ball.

"Whatever you needed her to do she did, and she had a great year," Ireland said of the two-year varsity starter. "I'm very glad that she's coming back."

Alex Stroud, Centennial senior. A left defender, in a couple of games Stroud had the opportunity to move to center midfield, and she responded by scoring two goals and getting an assist, which shows she can play offense as well as defense.

"Alex steps up to the challenge and works very, very hard," coach Tara Fadrowski said. "She's a versatile player and a super coachable kid. She's a solid field hockey player."

A two-year starter, Stroud was voted team MVP. She plans to play Division III field hockey next fall.

Anne Zabel, Marriotts Ridge senior. A defensive back, Zabel was the core of the Mustangs' defense but she had the speed and ability to help push the ball up through the midfield.

"Anne can hold on to the ball and dodge three or four players," coach Stacie Gado said. "She was most noticeable for her handling of the ball. She could bring it from the defensive end to the offensive 25."

Zabel enhanced her effectiveness by dribbling and then driving the ball. "She was cranking the ball like I've never seen her do before," Gado said.

A three-year varsity player, Zabel made a number of goal line defensive saves that helped the Mustangs record 11 shutouts this year.

She will play college lacrosse at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Goalkeepers

Sarah Bates, Glenelg Country junior. After graduating the scoring punch that carried the Dragons to consecutive B Conference championship games, 2011 was a different story. "Sarah worked very hard under very different circumstances than in the past two years," coach Jessica McAdams said.

This year's team was more about defense than offense, but Bates was up to the challenge, making 199 saves while allowing only 32 goals as the Dragons, the defending conference champion, fell one game short of reaching the conference title game again.

Physically, Bates is a small goalkeeper, but her speed, agility and anticipation combine to help her play big.

McAdams said that Bates has made the Futures Elite program. "I am so thrilled to have her for another year."

Maddy Fisher, Mt. Hebron junior. Fisher, who plays in goal for Mt. Hebron's lacrosse team, showed her potential as a hockey player this fall, which was only her second year playing the sport.

"Maddy is raw talent," Ireland said. "She has a tremendous instinct for the ball and she will dive or do whatever to keep the ball out of the cage."

As the season progressed, so did Fisher's confidence and skill. She had 101 saves, including 14 in the state championship game against Westminster.

"She was rock solid. For her first year of serious hockey, I thought she was really good," Ireland said. "I am just thrilled that she will be back next year."

Fisher posted nine shutouts in 19 games.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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