With the ball slowly rolling through the circle and everyone taking a swipe at it, Missy Hopkins reached out with her stick yesterday and did something that she hadn't done all year.
Hopkins, a sophomore left-inner, poked the ball into an open cage with 15 minutes remaining to Field hockey
lead fifth-seed Garrison Forest over fourth-seed Severn, 1-0, in the Association of Independent Schools' A Division field hockey tournament.
The Grizzlies (5-1-6) will play top-seeded Roland Park tomorrow in the semifinals. Severn, ranked No. 8 in the metro area, ends the season at 8-3-4.
"Almost everyone in the circle was touching the ball, making little passes," said Hopkins, who was mobbed by her teammates after the game. "It crossed in front of the goal and I just touched it in."
It was a mild surprise that the game didn't go into overtime. Severn has played to four ties this year, compared to six for Garrison Forest. An earlier meeting between the two teams ended at one.
"We practice a lot for the overtime, so we felt we were ready for it if it went to that," said Garrison Forest coach Micul Ann Morse. "I wasn't nervous about the possibility of having it, but I really felt like we would score before that. We really wanted to win this one in regulation time."
Hopkins made sure the Grizzlies did just that. She passed the ball on a penalty corner, and from there, a cluster of players converged in front of Severn keeper Christy Cole. The first shot deflected off Cole's leg, and the next one got behind her.
"She has a dynamite short stroke," Morse said of Hopkins. "She doesn't get as many scoring opportunities as the other kids because she's the one who takes our corner hits. I'm really glad she got that one."
Severn had most of the prime scoring chances in the opening half, but Garrison Forest controlled the ball for the first 10 minutes of the second half. The Grizzlies almost broke the tie about two minutes into the second half when a pass through the circle barely eluded the reach of two Garrison Forest players who were charging toward the cage.
"We talked a little bit [at halftime] about the fact that they were beating us to the ball," Morse said. "We tried to help ourselves on our own free hits, and got ready for their high scoops a little more. They were really putting the pressure on us in the first half."
The Admirals had six penalty corners after Hopkins' goal, but they couldn't get off a clean shot. Senior Brenna Ryan threw scare into the Grizzlies when she drove deep into their territory with about six minutes left, but defender Kelly Reynolds redirected the ball before it got to senior keeper Kathleen Harrington.
"I'd prefer to have put a little more pressure on the goalie," said Severn coach Anne Eisinger. "Had we done that, we probably would have won. They were all down there. We had plenty of shots, but no one was pressuring the goalie, getting the rebound, cutting more in the circle."
Junior Emily Franey came the closest to scoring for Severn in the first half, on a free hit with 10 minutes left that Harrington kicked away. Ryan split two defenders with five minutes left and flicked a shot that went wide right.
"All in all, we played a very, very, nice game. I mean, we outplayed them, we just didn't get it in the goal," Eisinger said.
"We have absolutely nothing to be upset about."