This Bryn Mawr-Roland Park field hockey game takes on a life of its own.
From the screaming fanatics with Mawrtian green hair spray to those on the other side with Reds red face paint, the game seems much more than an Association of Independent Schools A Division contest. But then, how many regular-season games have a 33-year-old silver cup on the line?
This year, the cup goes to Bryn Mawr, thanks to aggressive defense and a first-half goal by Dabney Varner. The Mawrtians, co-ranked No. 4 with the Reds, edged their closest rivals, 1-0, yesterday at Bryn Mawr.
The victory gives Mawrtians (7-1-2, 5-1-2) a 16-11 lead, with seven ties, in The Bryn Mawr Cup games since 1960. A cup dating back about another 30 years was retired after it ran out of room for engraving. For the Mawrtians, however, this year's game took on added significance.
"We've worked the whole season for this game," said Bryn Mawr forward Sara Jordan. "We haven't beaten them [since 1990], and we've been preparing all week for this."
From the start, the Mawrtians had a simple two-fold game plan -- play with intensity and double-team the Reds' outstanding midfielder, Peggy Boutilier. They did both well.
Still Boutilier had some good opportunities to score, especially in the second half when the Reds outshot the Mawrtians, 12-1. Her closest call came after a penalty corner in the final minute and a half. Boutilier took the corner pass from Lizzy Bennett, dodged a couple of rushing Mawrtians and fired her shot just wide of the cage.
The Mawrtians defense, especially Amy McCormick, Maggie Buck, Gailor Large and Kate Spies, blocked many of the Reds' shots. Keeper Kristin Garro made four saves.
The Mawrtians played aggressively all over the field, as even forward Nancy Kim turned in some stellar defensive plays. On the other hand, the Reds seemed a step behind much of the game.
Reds coach Debbie Bloodsworth said her team never adjusted to the bumpy Bryn Mawr field that even the Mawrtians admit is tough to play on.
On free hits, the ball kept popping up in the air off the uneven surface. In field hockey, undercutting the ball high into the air results in a turnover. The Reds (7-3, 5-3) played tentatively all afternoon, anticipating those quirky bounces.
"We're used to playing a big passing game and dodging game, and we couldn't do that on this field," said Reds forward Catherine Passano. "We didn't want to overrun anything, so we were holding back, afraid we would get beaten, but we got beaten, anyway."
Varner's game-winner came with 3:35 left in the first half. She picked off a deflection in a goal-line scuffle and shot it past Reds keeper Meredith Shuey (five saves).
The Mawrtians played more defensively in the second half, but as it turned out, they didn't need any more offense.
"We just played an excellent game," said Bryn Mawr coach Jeanette Budzik. "My kids really focused on the game. They thought about the small things like keeping their sticks down, and in a game like this, where the adrenalin is flowing, you're bound to forget those things sometimes."
Friends 1, McDonogh 0
Suzanah Gust, assisted by Shawny Nellums, scored the winning goal as No. 14 Friends shut out No. 15 McDonogh.