Susan Mackley, a senior right inner for Fallston High's field hockey team, never planned on accounting for nearly half the Cougars' 19 goals at this point in the season. It has just happened that way.
Mackley (nine goals) is quick to say that her success is a credit to her teammates, who have given her the ball at the right time. She sees herself as just one part of the explosive attack that has powered Fallston (8-0-1) to the No. 2 ranking in the area.
"We pass really well together, and most of the time my goals have been off a good pass and all I have to do is hit it in," said Mackley.
Coach Alice Puckett said, "She's just one of those kids that if you give her the ball and she's unmarked, she's going to score."
Mackley has been an impact player since she started playing at the varsity level three years ago and is one of eight players -- mostly on offense -- who returned from last year's 12-2 team.
And while her numbers have her on a pace to beat her career-best 11 goals as a junior, and to list her among the top five metro leaders, Mackley remains more concerned about her team's performance than her personal achievements. "I'm just shooting for our team's best," said Mackley. "It's not just one thing I do but what the whole front line does."
Puckett describes Mackley as a triple threat and credits her for much of the Cougars' superb ball control, which has generated nearly 20 shots a game.
"She has a lot of upper-body strength and good drive and she can score off either shot," said Puckett. "Even her push pass is extremely hard and she also has a pounding stroke."
"Scoring has never been the big thing for us, but this year we've had a lot of opportunities to score, and that's because we have the ability to keep the ball in possession and that has a lot to do with the seniors like Susan."
Mackley's biggest performance with the Cougars came Wednesday in a 3-0 win over North Harford. In a game in which she said she didn't play well, she still scored all three goals.
"I don't think I had a very good game," said Mackley. "I wasn't cutting to the ball as well as I should have. I just got excellent passes when I should have."
Speed appears to be the only thing Mackley's game doesn't possess, yet when it comes to one-on-one situations, she is exceptional. Puckett calls Mackley's passes pinpoint, and that has much to do with her stickwork. Mackley worked on that part of her game over the off-season and says it is noticeably improved over last year.
"I [played during the winter], then over the summer I played in summer camps, so basically I've been playing all year," said Mackley.
Like most seniors, Mackley's ultimate goal is to help the Cougars win a state title. A little fortune could be on their side now that Fallston is back to Class 1A, where it previously won three straight state championships. But before that can happen, Mackley is aware of what comes first.
"We all want to get there -- to the states -- but first I want to win the counties and then get to and win the regionals and the biggest thrill of my life would be to win the states," said Mackley.