Player of the Year: Christina Restivo, Hereford
No one proved more valuable to her team than the Baltimore City/County Player of the Year. Without their fearless, athletic goalkeeper, the No. 5 Bulls (12-3-3) simply would not have their state Class 2A championship trophy.
Restivo carried them through two playoff shootouts, including an upset of No. 1 Towson, and she made 13 saves to preserve a 1-1 tie with six-time defending state champ Bethesda-Chevy Chase in the state final.
The first-team All-State goalie posted a 93 percent save rate and had 14 shutouts. She did not allow a goal against any of the 13 penalty strokes she faced.
"She's just been amazing," said Bulls coach Tammy Mundie. "She just fuels off pressure situations like that. She has become very settled and very focused in her position."
Involved with the U.S. Field Hockey Association's Olympic-development style Futures program, Restivo played for Team Maryland at the National Hockey Festival in Palm Beach, Fla. over Thanksgiving weekend.
Coach of the Year: Jeannette Ireland, Mount Hebron
As her 12th season with the Vikings began, Ireland could never have guessed the number of hurdles she would help her players over en route to the state Class 3A championship game. In addition to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Vikings faced the life-threatening illness of a team parent, the death of a peer in an automobile accident and a minor bus accident before the regional final. Through it all, however, they remained determined to succeed on the field, recovering from a few bumpy patches to finish 14-5 with the No. 7 ranking. "It was an incredibly rewarding season," said Ireland, whose team fell to Fallston, 1-0, in the state final. "The girls prepared themselves so well in the off-season, and it was a real team effort. Everyone worked so well together." Ireland, the Howard County Coach of the Year and former coach at Johns Hopkins, earned her 100th career high school victory and has a 112-51-13 record.
Molly Ahearn, St. Paul's
Unstoppable and unflappable, the senior remained a powerful midfield presence in her second straight season as an All-Metro first-teamer. She simply made things happen for the No. 4 Gators. Always attacking, Ahearn led the Gators to a share of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship. Her speed, stick skills, physical strength and an intrinsic feel for the game made her a transition catalyst, coming up with the ball and redistributing in the midfield. A Futures veteran and first-team All-State selection, Ahearn signed early to play lacrosse at Georgetown, where she will also play field hockey.
Katie Baker, Long Reach
The defensive stalwart for the No. 8 Lightning, Baker led a unit that posted nine shutouts en route to the Howard County championship. A poised, consistent force at center back, the senior excelled at quick releases and powerful clears. Her aggressive play in the back also helped spark the Lightning's offense. In addition, her powerful drive made her a key contributor on offensive penalty corners, and she scored both of her goals on corner players. She also had four assists. A Futures veteran who plays for the Hurricanes club team, Baker hopes to play next year at UMBC.
Kelli Bowerman, Severna Park
Bowerman excelled with a split field hockey personality. Not only was she the key defender for the Anne Arundel County champion and No. 2 Falcons (14-1-1), but the senior was also one of their best shooters. In her second straight All-Metro first-team season, the senior back anchored a defense that recorded 10 shutouts. She also had nine goals and seven assists -- scoring most of her goals on corner plays. Her nearly unstoppable drive may have been her most obvious asset, but Bowerman also had the finesse, game sense and poise to complement her power and mold a stellar all-around game. The Futures veteran was named first-team All-State.
Megan Burker, Bryn Mawr
Moving from sweeper to center midfielder this season, Burker emerged as the central cog on a rebuilding team. Her versatility, aggressiveness and leadership proved critical to the No. 3 Mawrtians' recovering from a bumpy early season to become co-IAAM A Conference champions, their fifth straight private schools title. The senior, an All-State first-teamer, used her defensive skills and her good field vision to control the Mawrtians' transition game. She also scored six goals and contributed three assists. A Futures veteran and two-time Team Marylander, Burker signed early to play lacrosse at Stanford.
Emily Chamelin, Westminster
A repeat first-team All-Metro selection, the senior goalie led the No. 13 Owls (11-3-2) to their first state championship since 1996. To get there, Chamelin reversed the trend of the last two years by beating Walt Whitman in a state Class 4A semifinal shootout. She saved six of seven shots in the shootout to avenge two straight semifinal shootout losses to the Vikings. In the final, Chamelin saved nine shots, including two in the final 37 seconds, to preserve a 0-0 overtime tie with Quince Orchard and a share of the title. Chamelin finished the season with nine shutouts. She allowed just eight goals in 16 games.
Erica Chan, Garrison Forest
The Futures veteran was one of the main reasons No. 10 Garrison Forest (12-4-3) emerged as a force in the IAAM A Conference. A sure finisher, Chan led the Grizzlies' attack with 10 goals and also contributed one assist. The senior forward used her fine stick skills, poise and field vision to become a scoring threat every time she possessed the ball. Still, she remained a team player. Perhaps her greatest asset, however, was her leadership. Chan, a second-team All-State selection, enhanced her own skills by using them to make other players look good whether by sending a pass into the circle for a teammate or backing someone up.
Shannon Goans, River Hill
The Howard County Player of the Year used her exceptional stick skills to control the midfield for the No. 9 Hawks (12-2-2). The senior drew double teams, yet still proved difficult to beat with her ability to move the ball just about any way she chose, often weaving right through the opposition's defense. She could be deceptive with the ball and catch defenders off guard. Her ability to distribute the ball made her a key offensive catalyst for the Hawks. Goans also contributed five goals and eight assists. A second-team All-State selection and Team Maryland player, Goans has committed orally to play next fall at American University.
Ali Goetz, Fallston
The defensive quarterback for the Harford County and state Class 3A champions, Goetz led a unit that allowed only six goals in 19 games. Strangely enough, two of those goals came in one of the biggest wins in Cougars history -- a penalty stroke shootout victory over Severna Park in the regional final. The No. 6 Cougars (15-2-2) also notched 14 shutouts, including their 1-0 state-title victory over Mount Hebron. Rarely did the ball get past Goetz, a strong tackler with good field sense and a long reach. Chosen second-team All-State, the senior center back kept her teammates working in unison with constant communication.
Emily Kolarik, Towson
The senior played center midfield for the Baltimore County champions, but defense was the heart of her game. A vacuum cleaner through the middle, Kolarik stalled a lot of opposition game plans by using her ability to tackle or recover on a dime and turn the action around. Her role proved critical to the top-ranked Generals, who lost only in a penalty-stroke shootout with Hereford in the regional final. A first-team All-State defender, Kolarik contributed speed, quickness, agility, leadership and a keen knowledge of the game. A Futures veteran who also had three assists, Kolarik played twice for Team Maryland.
Nicole Mele, River Hill
No opponent was ever safe with the ball when Mele hovered nearby. The senior sweeper simply turned stealing into an art form. When she challenged, Mele stripped her opponent of the ball 89 percent of the time. That takeaway rate made her a key transition cog in the Hawks' game. Mele also played smart once she got the ball, often using her speed and ball control to weave through several opponents, giving her an open lane to connect with an attacking teammate. A complete player, Mele combined her speed and stick skills with good field vision, a powerful drive and strong defensive instincts.
Whitney Mershon, Towson
Everything the Generals did revolved around this senior midfielder. Her versatility had a lot to do with the Generals rising to No. 1 and going 17 straight games without a loss. The pivotal transition wheel, Mershon played on the left side, but always seemed to be wherever the ball was. She combined stick skills and game sense with a strong competitive drive and never-ending hustle. Solid on defense, she could block nearly any ball and drive it cleanly. Her offensive skills were just as strong. Mershon finished third on her team in scoring with six goals and five assists. She was selected first-team All-State.
Allison Schindler, St. Paul's
Schindler nearly skipped this field hockey season to have surgery on a torn ankle ligament, but the senior decided against it and emerged as one of the top defenders in the IAAM A Conference. Her ability to control the ball and carry it or cleanly drive it out of the back made the Gators one of the stingiest defensive units around. They posted 12 shutouts in 19 games while allowing just nine goals. That effort propelled the Gators to a conference co-championship in a 0-0 double-overtime title-game tie with Bryn Mawr. Selected for Team Maryland, Schindler chose to forgo the trip to Florida to finally have that ankle surgery.
Melanie Slessinger, North Carroll
The Carroll County Player of the Year provided the firepower to lead the No. 11 Panthers to county and Central Maryland Conference championships. Known early in her career as a setup artist, Slessinger added the role of finisher in this, her senior season. The All-State first-team forward was asked to help fill a scoring void left by graduation, and she responded by leading Carroll County in every scoring statistic -- points with 21, goals with 11 and assists with 10. Slessinger used her hard, quick shot and her ability to slip defenders to have the best offensive season of her four-year career.
Emily Swartz, Severna Park
A second-team All-Metro forward last fall, Swartz emerged as the go-to player for the Falcons. The senior led a potent attack with 16 goals and 12 assists. She had a hand in 40 percent of the 70 goals the Anne Arundel County champs scored. Hard to beat in the circle, Swartz had a knack for deceiving the defense. She would drive hard to the cage only to drop the ball to the left wing for the shot. She served as the Falcons' primary stopper on corner plays, but she could take the shot if she had an opening. Selected second-team All-State, the Futures veteran and former Junior Olympian also played for Team Maryland.
Name School Class Position
Rashmi Bhanot Long Reach Junior Forward
Lydia Eppig Westminster Senior Forward
Caroline Grumbine Roland Park Junior Forward
Erin Kelly Archbishop Spalding Sophomore Forward
Mandy Novak Fallston Senior Forward
Kim Ziegler Fallston Sophomore Forward
Mandy Bathras Chesapeake-AA Junior Midfield
Sarah Tracey Hereford Junior Midfield
Erin Burns Broadneck Senior Defense
Jen Gens Severn Senior Defense
Emily Goldman Mount Hebron Junior Defense
Kirsten Halle Park Junior Defense
Hayley Mershon Towson Junior Defense
Meghann Bush Chesapeake-AA Senior Goalkeeper
Karrie Moore Byrn Mawr Senior Goalkeeper
Note: The All-Metro field hockey teams were selected by Katherine Dunn after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun