New Dulaney field hockey coach lights fire under Lions

If Dulaney's field hockey players have learned anything since Kellie Fialcowitz took over as coach, it's that she wants the Lions to play with more intensity than any team in Baltimore County.

And that "hustle" is one of the most important words in the new coach's vocabulary.

"That's all we talk about, playing with fire," Fialcowitz said. "You want the ball? The ball is there. The person with more energy and fire is going to get there."

Fialcowitz exudes energy and enthusiasm — and it's rubbing off on her players.

The latest example came on Tuesday when visiting Dulaney defeated archrival Towson, 1-0.

The Lions and Generals were in a scoreless tie when Dulaney sophomore Christine Lopez started a set play on a penalty corner with a pass to senior Sara Sprinkel at the top of the circle.

Her line drive into the circle was re-directed into the goal by Sarah Schaeffler with 16:23 left in the second half for the only score of the Lions’ victory.

The win improved the Lions' record to 2-2, with wins over Maryvale and Towson sandwiched around one-goal losses to Mount Hebron and River Hill.

Fialcowitz replaced Kendra Zeller after being a Dulaney assistant from 2001 to 2006. She has hit the ground running by motivating the Lions to work harder, including rigorous two-a-day practices in the preseason.

"We had a lot of energy coming into this season," Dulaney senior attacker Sarah Schaeffler said. "We are all very pumped. We feel we have a lot more to offer this season than we have been credited for."

"I feel one of our strengths is our conditioning," senior defender Sara Sprinkel said. "We have spent a lot time on it. We have spent extra time when we wouldn't even have formal practice. It's been different this year in terms of conditioning."

Fialcowitz wants to continue the Lions' winning tradition under Zeller, who guided the team to berths in the Baltimore County championship game the past four seasons.

Still, that will be a challening goal because Dulaney returns only four starters in senior forwards Kati Williams and Maddie Manzoni, Sprinkel and junior goalie Kalie Paranzino.

"Dulaney has been pretty good, but we didn't get ranked this year (by the Baltimore Sun)," Fialcowitz said. "The girls feel like no one is taking them seriously. They want to be taken seriously."

She thinks her midfield is among the best — and youngest — in the county with junior Casey Profrock, sophomores Christine Lopez and freshman Claire Podies.

"We have some girls that can really feed the ball to the attack," Fialcowitz said. "They communicate, are fast, have great stick skills and communicate well."

Paranzino is another player Fialcowitz will rely on heavily to win games for the Lions. She's protected by Sprinkel, senior Lauren Batlas and sophomore Emma O'Grady on the backline.

"She is very vocal and a great leader on the team," Fialcowitz said of Paranzino. "She comes to practice every day wanting to know how she can get better."

Dulaney opened its season with a 3-2 victory over visiting Maryvale, of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference, on Sept 6 as Lopez, Sprinkel and Schaeffier scored.

Sprinkel had the game-winner with 8:20 remaining, knocking a hard shot past goalie Natalie Borelli on penalty corner that was started by Schaeffler.

"We had the fire," Fialcowitz said. "We wanted the ball and got the ball. They were hungry and wanted to win the game. Maryvale is a great team, but we just had a little more than they did."

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