Cougar Invitational exposes teams to quality opponents

rmorse@capgaznews.com

Chesapeake has built an annual tradition of hosting an early field hockey tournament and this year’s installment featured picture perfect weather and powerhouse competition as four of the five teams involved have a pedigree of success.

Manchester Valley, Patuxent and the host Cougars all reached the state semifinals last season, while Severna Park won the most recent of its 23 state championships in 2015.

“I want to put a good tournament on that they want to come back for,” Chesapeake coach Joan Johnson said. “We like to get different classes to come out here and play each other and see where we are, see how the talent stacks up between Anne Arundel County and all the other counties.”

The Cougars and Falcons got the day’s events started as each team matchup featured a 25-minute one half junior varsity competition followed by two 25-minute halves of varsity competition.

Severna Park (2-0) got goals from Lila Slattery and Hailey Blachly to edge Chesapeake, 2-1, with Rachel Fleig scoring for the Cougars (0-1) and Alexis Wade making 11 saves.

The contest was a perfect opportunity for a spirited game and to identify areas of weaknesses for the Falcons.

“Chesapeake looks fantastic, they gave us a really great game, back and forth,” Severna Park coach Ann Andrews said. “It’s nice to test ourselves against a county team, a friendly rival, we are very respectful. It's nice that we don’t have to travel too far and they were finding our weaknesses. We are trying to patch them up now before Tuesday so an event like this is really a kick start.”

Patuxent, a class 1A semifinalist last season and finalist in 2015, took on North County in the next contest, winning 4-0 on goals from Mackenzie Dinopolous, Riley Flanary, Hanah Ludke and Jenny O’Connor.Flanary, Hanah Ludke and Jenny O’Connor.

The Panthers have been traveling to Lake Shore from Calvert County for over 12 straight years for the chance to play quality competition.

“This is an opportunity for my girls to build on everything,” Patuxent coach Lynn Powell said. “You get pushed and pushed a little harder so we love coming here and we also get to see great field hockey. This is what makes our girls ready.”

The Knights turned right around and took on Manchester Valley in the middle game of the day.

The Mavericks have appeared in the 2A state semifinals in six of the last eight years and were sharp early, forcing several early saves from North County goalie Brea Weiss, who made 13 total stops.

Cambria Leidy finally broke the ice on a low blast to put the Mavericks on top before Annika McCallum’s drive on Leidy finally broke the ice on a low blast to put the Mavericks on top before Annika McCallum’s drive on net was tapped in by Madison Callahan to make it 2-0. McCallum later scored on an odd man rush to make it 3-0 at the half.McCallum later scored on an odd man rush to make it 3-0 at the half.

Manchester Valley added one more late in the game when McCallum assisted Callahan again for a final tally of 4-0.McCallum assisted Callahan again for a final tally of 4-0.

For Manchester Valley coach Terry Duryea, the tournament helps prepare a team in more ways than just the competition.Duryea, the tournament helps prepare a team in more ways than just the competition.

“It's good to be on turf because we play on grass so any experience on that is definitely a plus because it helps us working on our speed,” Duryea said. “Moving the ball at this speed is completely different than moving it on grass where it’s slower. I definitely look for a tournament that has that and then for the competition that's going to be here today, it helps the girls prepare for the season and what we have to come.”Duryea said. “Moving the ball at this speed is completely different than moving it on grass where it’s slower. I definitely look for a tournament that has that and then for the competition that's going to be here today, it helps the girls prepare for the season and what we have to come.”

Sarah Thomas made 10 saves in the second half for North County. The Knights were eager to participate in hopes of improving their quality of play by playing good competition.

“I think it’s really good practice to be able to see the competition and see what you need to work on in practice days and the best way to effectively develop and work on skills,” North County coach Morgan Downey said.

Each team played two games and the final two groupings of the day had Severna Park taking on Patuxent and Chesapeake playing Manchester Valley.

Delaney Ott and Haley Blachly both scored for the Falcons (3-0), who downed Patuxent 2-0. The Falcons peppered the Panthers with 29 shots on goal, while taking just two in return.

Rachel Fleig had three goals for Chesapeake in its 6-1 victory over Manchester Valley. Logan Beal, Hannah McKeon and Bridgette Tayman also scored goals. Eve Vickery had one save for Chesapeake (1-1).

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