The numbers are a source of pride for Severna Park field hockey coach Lil Shelton. They can faze even the steadiest of opponents.
The Falcons (13-0) had won five straight Class 4A Region IV championships, and nine overall, heading into yesterday's semifinal match against visiting Old Mill. It has become commonplace for Severna Park to visit Goucher College in Towson, site of the state playoffs, each November.
"This is an exciting time of the year," said Shelton, whose teams have claimed five state titles, the last in 1987. "This is what you spend your whole season preparing for, the playoffs."
Severna Park looked prepared yesterday, scoring three goals in the first half and dominating play in a 3-0 victory over fourth-seeded and visiting Old Mill (6-7). The top-seeded Falcons will meet No. 2 Broadneck, a 5-2 winner over Chesapeake yesterday, in tomorrow afternoon's region final.
The Severna Park defense, featuring a pair of sophomore keepers and mostly senior defenders, has permitted just five goals all season. The bulk of the credit for yesterday's shutout, however, went to the Falcons' midfield.
Old Mill managed just two shots -- both in the second half -- and struggled for much of the game to push the ball out of its own end.
"The midfield did a good job," Shelton said. "Kelly (Fennessey) and Shannon (Fitzgerald) did a really good job."
Old Mill lost to the Falcons during the regular season by the same 3-0 score. But first-year coach Jo Funk saw a vast difference between her team's respective efforts.
"We played an outstanding game compared to our last game (against Severna Park)," she said. "Their skill level certainly is beyond ours, but the shots they scored on were not little fluke shots inside the circle.
They were hard drives."
The Patriots switched from a zone to a man-to-man after the first meeting in order to spread out the defense. "We gave Severna Park too much freedom," Funk said of the Sept. 21 game.
Old Mill was without perhaps its top defender, junior Karin Gleason, who was unavailable because of a death in her family.
Severna Park's first goal came 9 minutes, 30 seconds into the game, when Katie Woodcock converted a Holly Roessler pass off a penalty corner.
"We've got a good way of doing corners. Most of them really pay off for us," Roessler said.
Shortly after Patriots keeper Kim Greenlee made one of her 12 saves, Roessler scored off a Petra Smeehuyzen pass at 13:20 to increase the Falcons' lead to 2-0.
With just under 10 minutes remaining before halftime, Smeehuyzen passed to Roessler, who quickly flipped the ball to Woodcock. Greenlee knocked down Woodcock's shot, but Gately slammed home the rebound to put Severna Park ahead, 3-0.
"Our passes the first half were beautiful," Shelton said. "The whole team effort was good. They seemed to know right where to put the ball.
"I could tell right away that we were ready. These girls motivate themselves. Very few times have I had to get in there and say, 'Let's do it, let's do it.' They're self-motivating."
Severna Park should have no problem getting psyched for Broadneck, a neighboring rival the Falcons defeated earlier this month, 3-0.
"They play like we do. They play our style," Shelton said of the Bruins.
"I don't think I'll have any trouble getting my team up mentally for Broadneck."