The Seton Keough field hockey team is having a year to remember in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference, and one of the primary reasons is the play of goalkeeper Becca Wallace.
The senior, who transferred to the school two years ago from North County, has made 76 saves this season and shut out the entire B Conference. She has allowed only five goals out of conference to top-ranked public schools and A Conference teams as the Gators have built a 16-3-2 overall record, including 11-0 in conference.
"She's a key reason for our success," Seton Keough coach Tom Jester said. "She's made critical saves in key situations that have made the difference."
Jester describes his goalie as focused and fast, with good lateral and up-and-down movement.
Wallace is also a hard worker and dedicated student. She is being recruited by Division I and Division III schools, including Towson, Kent State, McDaniel and Lynchburg, which are at the top of her list of choices.
Why did you transfer from North County to Seton Keough?
I was playing club field hockey with the Gaels in Severna Park, and some of my friends there were in school here and said I should come here. I didn't know how I would convince my parents, but it turned out to be easier than I thought. Dad thought it would be better for me in every way.
And has it been?
Yes. College is important to me. North County was less challenging. I knew Seton Keough was a college prep school, and I didn't want to go from high school to college thinking it was so laid back. Coming here is a snap to reality. When I got here, I hadn't learned much. I had to work double overtime when I got here just to catch up. Being here is like prepping for your future. It's really good.
Are you getting good grades?
My grade point average right now is between 2.0 and 2.5. My goal by the end of my senior year is to be a 3.0 student. [Her parents] suggested I go to the Huntington [Learning Center] program in Severna Park. It's like the Sylvan Learning Center. It provided help for the SAT test, with reading and comprehension. And, inadvertently, it helps with math, too, making it easier to understand those written questions. Last year I wasn't so good on tests, but this year I'm getting Bs in math and I haven't really failed one test — and I've taken millions.
What do you want to do in college?
I want to have a double major in deaf studies and elementary education. After undergrad, I want to go to grad school at Gallaudet University and become an interpreter and teacher. I'm a very hands-on learner. I took sign language as a foreign language. I look at it a little like sports. You start a sport, and if you like it, you keep going. I like sign language, so I want to keep growing with it.
And I like helping kids. I enjoy little people. I work in the nursery at church and I baby sit. I have a little sister, Jessica [Norton]. She's 9 and in to field hockey. She's a goalie, too. She wants to be like me. She cut her hair off when I cut mine and she wears a shirt to match mine. It's kind of cute — but don't tell her I said that.
Speaking of liking sports, when did you start playing field hockey?
My freshman year at North County. I had played goalie in lacrosse — my dad coaches lacrosse — and I decided to try out for field hockey as a goalie. Goalie in field hockey is completely different from lacrosse. You don't have a crease and you can go out and attack. If an opposing player has the ball, you can go out and hit 'em. It's not fun for them, but it is for me — I'm very aggressive.
Is that aggressiveness part of why you and your team have had such success this season?
That and the fact my teammates are very good. I think we expected to have a strong defense — Kathleen Sigwart, Emani Byrd, Hannah Tavik and Ashley Lemanski are all good. But I don't think we expected to score as many goals as we have [Seton Keough has outscored its B Conference foes, 44-0, and the overall scoring edge is 62-5].
Having been perfect in conference so far, would it be devastating to give up a goal in the playoffs?
I don't think we'd be upset. We'd just go out and try to score another one on our opponents. We've talked about being undefeated, but we've never talked about giving up a goal. I think if we did, we'd still turn around and give 110 percent.
Your father coaches lacrosse. What's the most important piece of advice he has ever given you?
If you start something, don't quit.
Does he give coaching advice?
He tries to. He comes to every game, and I've taught him sign language for the words he needs to communicate with me during games. He signs things like "Stay back."
At this point in your life, what is the most important thing you've done?
Coming to Keough. It's funny, when I was little and we lived in Violetville before moving to Anne Arundel [County] when I was 7 or 8, I used to think Keough was an old, rundown, abandoned building. I'd only see it in summer, when no one was around. And now, it has changed everything from my past to being my future.