Field hockey: Player, Coach of the Year
Fallston's Lindsey Puckett is the All-Metro Player of the Year for field hockey. (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr. / December 1, 2008)
Puckett, the daughter of long-time Fallston coach Alice Puckett, started playing field hockey at 7. Since then, the senior forward has developed exceptionally refined skills for a high school player. She seems able to do just about anything she wants with the ball, and she demonstrated that in leading the No. 2 Cougars to a 19-1 season and their 11th state title.
Although she led the Cougars in scoring with 10 goals and 15 assists, Puckett could play anywhere. She was always a presence around the ball and seemed able to steal it practically at will.
"She has a well-rounded game," Alice Puckett said. "She's versatile, which I think is her biggest asset. She can transition well and lay it off with a nice pass, or if she needs to take the shot, she can take the shot. In a couple of big games, she stepped up and played defense. She's where we need her to be."
A former Junior Olympian who has played in the National Futures Tournament and been selected to the Futures Elite level, Lindsey Puckett displayed exceptional stickwork. She has plenty of tricky moves in her repertoire as well as the speed, quickness and field sense to execute to perfection.
In the Class 3A state final, Puckett finished her career with three assists, including one on the game-winner in the 4-3 victory over Atholton. One of her biggest games came in a 3-1 upset of then-No. 1 Garrison Forest in which she had two goals and an assist.
"She's a team player who's willing to give up the ball,and she knows when to give up the ball and when to take it," C. Milton Wright coach Bonnie Schnell said. "She can maneuver around players like they're standing still. She has phenomenal stick skills, but she's like a basketball player who looks the opposite way and then passes the ball. That makes it very hard to defend against her."
A three-time All-Metro first-team selection, Puckett was the Harford County Player of the Year for a second straight season. She was also named All-South Region for a second straight time.
Puckett plays for the Strikers club team, and she has orally committed to play for Maryland.
Coach of the Year
After graduating one of the strongest senior classes in school history, the Falcons should have had a rebuilding year. Instead, they came together quickly to go 19-1, win their 18th state championship and finish No. 1.
Shelton, the only coach the program has had, guided her young team through an unbeaten regular season and helped it bounce back from its only loss, 2-0, to Broadneck in the Anne Arundel County final. The Falcons avenged that loss with a 3-2 overtime victory in the regional final and rolled through the state tournament, outscoring their final two foes 10-0.
In her 34th season, Shelton stays current with the game by attending clinics and watching Maryland games, where she said she often picks up new warm-up drills. She credited her players with the season's success.
"They're the ones who did the good job," Shelton said. "We had the neatest bond this year. There was never any animosity. It was just an unreal year. I didn't want it to end. None of us wanted it to end."
Also the All-Metro Coach of the Year in 1997, Shelton has a career record of 496-54-9 and has no plans to retire anytime soon.