First things first, I'd like to acknowledge the C. Milton Wright and Patterson Mill field hockey teams for moving on to the state semifinals in their respective MPSSAA tournaments.
I took a one-year hiatus from covering field hockey last season, the first time I'd given up coverage of that sport since I joined The Aegis in 2007, and on returning this season, I wasn't so sure how things stood. I got my answer on Wednesday. Field hockey in Harford County is just as good as it was when I left it at the end of the 2011 season (big surprise, right?). I've said this before, but in continually producing programs that can compete at the state level, there aren't many team sports in this county that can compete with field hockey. Although, I haven't seen a state championship won by a school not named Fallston, which I'd like to see change this year, if possible.
Also, to be more specific, Patterson Mill's Linnea Gonzalez is having one of the best playoff runs I've ever seen or heard about. She scored the game-winning goal on Wednesday to seal the Huskies' 2-1, sudden-death overtime victory over North East in the 1A North title game. Two days before that, she scored four times in an 8-0 win over Harford Tech, and, probably most impressively, she netted all three of the Huskies' goals in their 3-0 second-round win against Fallston. Scoring a hat trick against Fallston is pretty impressive any old time you'd like, but doing it in the playoffs, and handing the Cougars, reigning 1A champs, their first early exit in a very long time, is phenomenal.
And now I'll switch gears to football. My memory is generally pretty bad, I think. There are specific things that stick with me for ages, but the big-picture type of things, like which team went to the playoffs in a particular year, tend to slip away fairly easily. Here's an example of how my mind fills in the blanks: The North Harford Hawks, according to my brain, have not lost a single game to an UCBAC team since I've been covering football (fall 2007), and they have never played a road game during that time either, instead having enjoyed a home-field advantage in the 70-plus games they've played over that stretch. Sounds about right, yes?
Of course, both of those are ridiculous. The latter springs from the fact that almost all of the North Harford games I've covered have been played on the Hawks' home field, which is just a coincidence. I think driving home through the depths of Harford County after a dozen or so games in Pylesville has also left a mark on me because that's a very lonely drive. As for the Hawks never losing to UCBAC opponents, though certainly not true, it's a little closer to reality.
Looking back to fall 2007 (I should just refer to that as A.D., "After Dewey," since I refer to it all the time), the Hawks have lost just nine games to UCBAC opponents from then until now (now being last Friday, when North Harford pummeled C. Milton Wright). Nearly half of those losses came in the 2008 season, which saw North Harford defeated four times. Besides that tough 2008 campaign, the Hawks lost once to an UCBAC foe in 2009, twice in 2011 and once this season. In 2010 and 2012, North Harford was perfect against conference opponents.
So, where am I going with this? Last year I wrote a column after the Hawks edged Fallston, 14-13, when the Cougars decided to go for a two-point conversion, and the victory, on the final play of the game. North Harford made the stop, and took a one-point win (that game was played in Fallston, by the way). If the Cougars had scored on that two-point play, then they would be the only UCBAC team to have beaten the Hawks three times since 2007. As it stands, only Fallston and Joppatowne have handed North Harford two losses over that span.
Fallston, which beat North Harford, 35-7, in 2008, and, 35-20, in 2011, has as good a track record against the Hawks as you could want. And the two teams are squaring off tonight (Friday) on the Cougars home field. I'm not going to make a prediction on that one, but at least it will prove to my mind, once and for all, that North Harford actually plays road games.