Glenelg's Treacy tops Howard County Field Hockey all-county teams

howardcountysports@patuxent.com
Glenelg senior Laney Treacy named Player of Year to headline Howard County field hockey 2016 Player of Year

Laney Treacy can speak English, Spanish and, for kicks, she's learning Chinese, but she is more than willing to talk field hockey.

She has an extensive résumé in the sport, including both in-season and out-of-season play.

Since she entered Glenelg, she has helped win four county titles, make three state semifinal trips and appear in the national rankings while being selected as an all-county and all-state performer.

For much of this fall, the Gladiators were undefeated and the top-ranked team in the Baltimore/Washington area.

Because field hockey is more than just a fall sport, on the club side, Treacy's résumé includes Futures, Junior Olympics, the National Festival, national club championships and outdoor leagues.

She has been an impact player since her freshman year and she has gone far and wide to continue to advance her game.

Treacy can now add an additional award to her list of honors. She is this year's Howard County Times/Columbia Flier field hockey Player of the Year.

Not a bad achievement for a one-time youth soccer player whose mother had to coax her to play with the Howard Stampede field hockey program as a third grader.

Used to the pace of a soccer game, Treacy found the new sport to be "too slow and with a bunch of fouls."

It didn't help that she didn't even know how to hold a field hockey stick. When they threw the fledgling player into a scrimmage, she recalls hearing more than once, "Laney, don't use that side of the stick."

She gradually caught on and is glad that she stuck with it. Now she loves the game and its challenges.

"The sport is unlike any other. It's just so fast and it is played on four completely different surfaces," she said.

Each surface — grass, Bermuda grass, sports turf and wet turf — requires an adjustment in playing style. The adaptive changes needed appeal to Treacy's "math brain." She is going to Bucknell University to study engineering and play field hockey.

In middle school, she figured out how to get more playing time.

"There were too many forwards and I was tired of getting subbed out," she said.

The solution was simple — just ask to play defense. It worked; she got more playing time.

A center midfielder as a junior, Treacy became Glenelg's center back this season. The switch gave her the opportunity to contribute offensively and defensively. She was a threat no matter where she was on the field.

With Treacy in the backfield, opponents had trouble getting inside their attacking end. If they did get close enough to shoot, she repositioned to block the shot. She made 10 defensive saves.

At the other end of the field, she joined the offensive corner unit and scored three goals, including two scored off her lift.

On restarts, her aerial throw added another dimension to her play as a way to quickly advance the ball up field.

Technically speaking, she could do it all.

"Laney was half the reason why we had the record that we did this season with the teams that we played against," said coach Nikki Trunzo.

Howard County paired with Anne Arundel County on a crossover schedule that had the top- and bottom-tier teams in each county play each other. At the state level, Anne Arundel County has a long tradition as a field hockey power, but Glenelg handled the teams it faced on its beefed up schedule while forging a 16-0 record.

It was the next game, a 1-0 loss to Hereford in a Class 2A state semifinal, that stubbed the Gladiators' toes. It was the only game all season that Glenelg failed to score.

Hereford slipped in a first-half goal and put Glenelg on its heels as the Bulls' goalie made save after save.

"They were a similar team to us," Treacy said.

Glenelg dug in and created opportunities. "You could tell that we really wanted it. We came together; we just couldn't finish," Treacy said.

Hereford went on to win the state title.

"Laney is a bit of a perfectionist. She strives to be the best she can be at her position," Trunzo said. "I think she will do a good job at Bucknell."

Named to the all-county first team are:

Forwards

Caroline Blalock, Marriotts Ridge, senior

Field hockey is not her main focus, but Blalock, who will play Division I college lacrosse, is nonetheless an accomplished hockey player. She is athletic, feisty, aggressive, fast and she gets the job done.

Depending on the Mustangs' needs, Blalock shifted between right wing and center forward this fall as she led her team in scoring (14 goals, 10 assists).

"Caroline consistently has been a productive game player that performs well under pressure and in the heat of the moment," said coach Stacie Gado. "She rises to the occasion with intensity and determination. … She has been a great contributor to the successes that the Mustangs have had over the past three years."

Blalock leaves Marriotts Ridge as the leading scorer in school history (45 goals, 30 assists).

Stephanie Gottwals, Atholton, sophomore

Although she is slight of build, Gottwals is a huge factor on the field. She is fast and elusive as she dribbles the ball toward goal.

"Stephanie can get around anybody," said coach Martie Dyer. "If [a defender] jabs at her, she finds another way to go around. She lifts. She pulls. She's amazing."

Gottwals scored eight goals this season, including several game winners. None was more dramatic than the one she scored against Catonsville.

The game was tied, 3-3, with 19 seconds remaining. Gottwals took the center pass from teammate Tori Raulin, dribbled down the field through every defender and scored the winning goal with two seconds left on the clock.

"That's the kind of player that she is. She has determination and finesse and she never gives up on the ball," Dyer said.

Gaby Hamburger, River Hill, junior

In her third year on varsity, Hamburger continues to elevate her game. She has become a prolific scorer, as she led the county in goals (35) and points (82) this fall.

There haven't been many in River Hill history that can find the goal like she can.

"Gaby's skill level rates with any of my top forwards since the school opened," said coach Shelly Chamness.

Hamburger, who plays center forward, is an excellent ball carrier. She is a skilled dodger and has excellent shot variety. She can score in traffic or off the fast break.

"She gets double-teamed and triple-teamed a lot of the time, but she still gets shots off," Chamness said. "She is really talented."

Olivia O'Connell, Centennial, senior

Athleticism, determination, speed, strength and power combine to make O'Connell one of the top players in the county.

"Olivia can pull off shots and goals that you would not expect from other players," said coach Tara Carr. "She had really memorable goals in so many games this season — whether we won or not."

She had the overtime goal that beat River Hill. In a different game, she didn't allow the goalie the chance to read the play as she put the ball in the upper right corner of the cage.

In the playoffs against Mt. Hebron, O'Connell dodged three defenders as she took the ball right up the middle to score on a textbook mid-stride drive.

O'Connell, who will play at Kenyon College, had 10 goals and seven assists in helping Centennial to one of its most successful seasons.

Gabby Rachuba, Glenelg, senior

Rachuba held the center spot in an offense capable of multiple approaches to attacking the goal.

She was key to Glenelg's intimidating offense. As evidenced by her 17 goals and 12 assists, she was exactly what is needed on the forward line — a true finisher.

"Gabby is awesome to coach and awesome to be around," said coach Nikki Trunzo. "She has the best attitude in the world. … When everyone is serious, she is a breath of fresh air."

Rachuba will play collegiate field hockey.

Midfield

Mary Margaret Baldy, Centennial, senior

Baldy was the cornerstone of Centennial's team.

"[Mary] was such a pivotal player that I rarely took her out," said coach Tara Carr.

By Carr's estimate, in four years Baldy "might" have only seen the sideline for 30 minutes total.

Baldy has impressive field vision and control of the game. She has great off-ball positioning. Her teammates respect her and look up to her like a coach.

Every year Carr thought she might push Baldy into becoming more of an offensive threat, either as an upper midfielder or a forward, but she was such a staple as a defensive midfielder, the switch was never made.

"She's still a player, but one day I know she will be a fantastic coach," Carr said.

Baldy, who had four goals and three assists, will play for Ursinus College next fall.

Isis Groot, Mt. Hebron, junior

In a year that found Mt. Hebron in a rebuilding mode, Isis Groot was a gift.

A foreign exchange student from the Netherlands, she proved to be exactly what the Vikings needed — a good athlete, skilled player, willing learner and, as it turns out, patient teacher.

"She's a great hockey player but the biggest thing is her hockey knowledge. Her hockey IQ is off the charts," said coach Jeannette Ireland.

Groot, a defender by training, began the fall on the back line where her free hits fueled the offense.

She gradually moved into the midfield and even contributed to the offense, chipping in three goals and three assists, as the Vikings adapted her talents to their needs.

She designed one of the team's most successful corner plays.

"It was special having her and at a time that we really needed somebody. I think we all learned something," said Ireland.

Grace Olson, Glenelg, senior

In describing Olson, coach Nikki Trunzo can't help but recall Muhammad Ali's mantra: Float like a butterfly; sting like a bee.

Olson moved to the center midfielder position this season and there she floated from side to side on the field, covering a wide area. Her sting came when she intercepted a pass, laid a block tackle or found an open teammate for an assist.

While she dictated what happened in the midfield, versatility was the name of her game. On corners she was a hitter, an inserter and a defensive fly.

Glenelg was very successful with its offensive corners and a lot of that was due to Olson's insert and accurate, strong hit.

"You cannot replace a Grace Olson with her attitude, her play, her flow of the game and her on- and off-the-field leadership," said Trunzo. "She came into her own this year."

Olson scored five goals and had seven assists.

Paige Reese, Glenelg, junior

Reese is a strong player that plays at one speed — full speed, all the time.

"When Paige comes out to play, she goes as hard as she can," said coach Nikki Trunzo.

Reese drew the difficult left midfield spot and sparkled at the position. Her defensive recovery and second effort stood out.

She had good off-ball perception and knew how to position herself to make the play. Intercepting passes was her specialty and she often initiated Glenelg's offense from the midfield area. She could score, too, and had four goals.

"Paige always wants more feedback. She is always looking to better her game," Trunzo said.

Defense

Denise Linn, Mt. Hebron, senior

A left midfield almost her entire career, Linn moved to center back this season.

"Denise was willing to move to the back line and it really helped us," said coach Jeannette Ireland. "She took over that deep defense position for us."

The shift allowed Linn to patrol from sideline to sideline to thwart opponents' offensive efforts. She frustrated Atholton's attack when she shut down the passing lanes in Mt. Hebron's playoff victory.

Linn is the last of three sisters to wear No. 18 for the Vikings.

"She has had a solid career at Hebron," Ireland said.

Ashley Martin, Atholton, senior

Martin's defensive play can be summed up in a few words — consistent, steady, calm and collected. There's nothing fancy about what she does; she's just solid and plays smart when she gets the ball.

In her cover position Martin plays behind the ball at all times, which means she covers a large portion of the field and is constantly on the move.

"Nobody gets by Ashley. She just takes care of business and she never ever has a bad game," coach Martie Dyer said in regards to her four-year starter and team MVP.

Goalkeeper

Adira Colton, Atholton, senior

Colton is an active goalkeeper. She doesn't stand on the goal line and wait to react; she comes out to challenge the play.

She is tenacious and recorded 170 saves while allowing just 25 goals. The result was the best save percentage in the county (87 percent).

"Adira is completely fearless and a big hit does not faze her at all. That's a great quality to have. She's like, 'bring it,'" said coach Martie Dyer.

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