December 12, 2007
Getting past Battista proved one of the most difficult tasks this season.
The senior put up a brick wall in the backfield and rarely got beaten. With her stick skills, speed and defensive instincts, she led the Seahawks to an unbeaten regular season and into the Class 4A East regional final, where they fell to Severna Park in a shootout.
With Battista's leadership, the No. 4 Seahawks shut out 10 opponents and allowed just 10 goals in going 16-2. She made three stick saves and also contributed seven goals and six assists.
Battista didn't start playing field hockey as early as many other players in Anne Arundel County. She concentrated on softball until this season, when she opted to pursue hockey in college and recently committed to Georgetown. She played for the SPark club team at the U.S. Field Hockey Association's national tournament over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Seahawks coach Katie Corcoran said one of Battista's greatest assets is never being satisfied with her game.
"She just wants to improve her game every day," Corcoran said. "Coming in her freshman year, starting her first game, she just had this confidence and this willingness to listen to everything the coaches had to say. She wouldn't let herself think she didn't have room to improve."
As a result, her game kept improving. Battista was perhaps best known for her drives. She had tremendous power behind them and often ignited the attack with a long ball up the field. In addition, she had plenty of patience, perfect timing and a relentless inner drive.
"She's just a smart player, and she's got great game sense," Broadneck coach Jen Parks said. "She has a fantastic drive, and I know that's only one very small part of her game. She's great getting the ball out of the circle, and she doesn't get frazzled. She was such a leader for them."
The Anne Arundel County Player of the Year is also a two-time All-Metro first-team selection.
Allison Behringer, Severna Park
The central cog in the Falcons' midfield, Behringer played a key role in Severna Park's comeback season -- from three regular season losses for the first time in nearly 30 years to the Class 4A state championship. The senior excelled with her superb field vision, stick skills and constant hustle, often setting the No. 2 Falcons' attack in motion. Her passing was dead-on, and she was a reliable finisher, scoring eight goals, including one in a shootout victory over South River in the regional final. Her 11 assists tied for best on the team. A Futures veteranwho plays for the SPark club team, Behringer has committed to play field hockey and lacrosse at Princeton.
Liza Blue, Garrison Forest
Never flashy but always dependable and solid, Blue played her center midfield role to little individual fanfare but great team success, helping the No. 1 Grizzlies win the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship. The sophomore showed exceptional poise and field presence for a young player and emerged as the backbone of a team laden with underclassmen. Blue was the key to the Grizzlies' transition game with her blocks and precision passes. She could also finish, contributing a pair of goals and six assists. A veteran of the Futures Program, Blue played for Team Baltimore at the national festival.
Sarah Cole, Bryn Mawr
A skilled player who was exceptional at moving the ball downfield at top speed,Cole was the Baltimore City Player of the Year. She was adept at throwing the defense off balance with her deceptive moves and ability to see several plays ahead. Cole proved so difficult to stop that she almost always drew multiple defenders, who sometimes got a little too physical in their efforts to curtail her. The senior handled the pressure well, finishing the season with 12 goals and five assists for the No. 6 Mawrtians. Cole, who played for Club Applebee at the national festival, plans to play in college.
Shannon Hanratty, Broadneck
Perhaps the best defender in Bruins history, the senior anchored a unit that allowed just nine goals while shutting out 10 opponents. Skilled and quick in the back with exceptional patience, the senior had the timing and the defensive instincts to play the ball at just the right moment. Hanratty could also play like a second goalie on the line, making four saves for the No. 3 Bruins, who won the Anne Arundel County championship. She also was a strong leader on the field, orchestrating the defense and inspiring her teammates. A Futures veteran who played for the SPark club team at the national festival, Hanratty plans to play in college.
Virginia Jorden, South River
A fearless, athletic goalie, Jorden saved the No. 4 Seahawks several times this fall as they went unbeaten through the regular season. She also had some exceptional saves in the regional final, which ended in a shootout loss to Severna Park. The senior made 62 saves and allowed just nine goals for an 87 percent save rate. She had 10 shutouts in 18 games. Jorden made several diving saves through the season and was remarkably quick getting back on her feet. She also had excellent clears. A Seahawks defensive leader, she proved a strong communicator and excelled at directing her defense. She plans to play in college.
Sarah Parks, Centennial
Parks, the Howard County Player of the Year, holds all of Centennial's career and single-season scoring records. The senior finished her career with 53 goals and 27 assists. She set the single-season record for goals with 22 last season, and she added the assist mark this season with 14. A finesse player with exceptional stick skills, Parks keeps the ball so tight on her stick that opponents don't have much of a chance to steal it. This season, Parks scored 19 goals and had 14 assists to lead the No. 11 Eagles to the Howard County championship and the Class 3A state semifinals. A repeat All-Metro first-team selection, Parks has committed to play lacrosse at Dartmouth.
Lindsey Puckett, Fallston
A repeat first-team selection, the junior showed off all of her attack skills with a three-goal performance in a 5-1 victory over Centennial in the state semifinals. The Harford County Player of theYear, however, was much more than a finisher for the No.5 and Class 3A champion Cougars. Although she scored nine goals and had six assists, Puckett most often initiated the attack. With her perfect passing, quick releases and superb timing, she could maneuver the ball herself or pass to her teammates' sticks. An All-South Region selection, Puckett is a Futures veteran and three-time Junior Olympian who played for the Strikers club team at the national festival.
Ally Rager, Westminster
After three years at center back, the senior moved to the midfield. That gave her broader range to play defense and contribute more to the transition game, as No. 7 Westminster reached the state Class 4A state semifinals for the first time in five years. Rager played almost every minute for the Carroll County champions, who allowed only two goals all season. Her field sense, stick skills, timing and hustle stood out so much that coach Mary Rivera said the Owls attackers complained when they had to go three-on-one against her in practice drills. The Carroll County Player of the Year plays for the Majestx club team and plans to play in college.
Brigitte Strother, Broadneck
The first thing you notice about Strother is her speed. She can beat just about everyone downfield, and her teammates often fed her long passes that she could run onto. The skilled senior led the Anne Arundel County champions with 20 goals and five assists. A second-team All-Metro selection last season, Strother scored the game-winner in a 2-1 victory over South River in the county title game. A four-year starter and team leader, she always inspired her team. She finished her career with 54 goals and 15 assists. Strother, who played for Team Maryland at the national festival, plans to play in college.
Amy Thompson, Glenelg
The speedy, skilled left wing finished her career with 47 goals and 10 assists to become the Gladiators' all-time leading scorer. But her value went way beyond her ability to finish. Even though she drew the opposition's top defender, she was still able to carry and send the ball down the left side, creating many of the No. 13 Gladiators' scoring opportunities. Coach Ginger Kincaid said Thompson seemed to love the challenge of facing a double team. A second-team All-Metro selection last season, Thompson is a Futures veteran who plays for the Majestx club team and plans to play in college.
Caitlin Walker, Fallston
Walker draws a lot of attention for wearing her hair high on her head with a lot of ribbons, but she draws even more attention for her excellent midfield game. The senior proved to be nearly unstoppable while keeping the Class 3A state champs moving down the left side of the field. Her stick work, deceptive moves and great work ethic gave defenders fits. Walker, who had four goals and two assists, also scored some of the No. 5 Cougars' biggest goals, including one in overtime to beat North Harford. A Futures veteran who plays club ball with Rising Sun's team, Walker has committed to play at Salisbury.
Name, School, Year, Position
Katie DiFilippo South Carroll Jr. Forward
Abby Lynch Arch. Spalding Sr. Forward
Caitlin Powers Towson Jr. Forward
Deanna Dydnski Mount Hebron Sr. Midfield
Brooke Griffin South River Soph. Midfield
Peyton Hawkins Bryn Mawr Sr. Midfield
Kim Schnell C. Milton Wright Sr. Midfield
Julie Gardner Severna Park Sr. Defense
Christine Knauss Garrison Forest Jr. Defense
Mandy Pace Hereford Sr. Defense
Abigail Bisbee Bryn Mawr Jr. Goalie
Emily Cain Garrison Forest Soph. Goalie
Honorable mention: Claire Brady, Century; Ashlea Carl, North Carroll; Jessica Crane, Chesapeake-AA; Celeste DiFerdinando, Hereford; Lauren Gottleib, Chesapeake-AA; Katie Jones, Winters Mill; Amber Nichols, Westminster; Brittany Palasik, Archbishop Spalding; Kaylee Pohlmeyer, Severna Park; Lainey Rosson, Severn; Katie Vitale, C. Milton Wright; Tara Williams, Dulaney.
Note: Teams selected by Katherine Dunn after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.
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