Now that another outstanding field hockey season is over, it is time to look back on a sport that continues to thrive in the Carroll County.
Three out of five schools advanced to the state final four at Goucher College, and a fourth -- North Carroll -- belonged in the states and might have been good enough to win the 2A title.
A young and talented Francis Scott Key team became one of only three schools in the state to win five or more state championships in the 19-year history of the tournament.
The 13-1-2 Eagles, led by Stacey Greene, Becky Tregoning and Missy Muller, captured the 1A title with a 1-0 victory over longtime nemesis Pocomoke. They trail only Severna Park (seven) and Middletown (six) in championships won.
Key also was led by one of the brightest young coaches in the state, Mindi Wagner, 24. In two seasons, Wagner has guided the Eagles to the state semifinals and the championship.
Coach of the Year honors went to Westminster co-coaches Sue Hooper and Brenda Baker, who lost their top 11 players and still made the state 4A semifinals. The 12-3 Owls led most of the way in the semifinals against Richard Montgomery before the Rockets scored late in regulation and then won, 2-1, in overtime.
In a county rich in coaching talent, there was another coach who quietly took her team to the state semifinals -- Courtney Vaughn of Liberty.
The Lions, an even younger team than Key, were virtually overshadowed by North Carroll, Westminster and Francis Scott Key. But Liberty shocked North Carroll, 1-0, in the region finals on strokes in a game that will long be remembered.
The Panthers entered that game against Liberty as the county champions with a 11-1-1 record and the metro area's No. 4 team. They had the county Player of the Year in Jill Ballard, had allowed only two goals all season, were 2-0 against the Lions and had the home-field advantage.
And then the seemingly unbelievable happened.
Liberty won on strokes after North Carroll had dominated regulation and overtime play. Ballard had two goals disallowed in that game and Beth Moore had a goal disallowed in overtime.
Moore's goal was the most controversial, as the North Carroll players started onto the field to celebrate but were turned back by the officials.
North Carroll coach Denean Powelson later said she felt that Moore's goal was good. She backed the officials on the other two calls against Ballard.
After knocking off North Carroll to make the state 2As, many of the Liberty players felt they would go all the way to a state title.
But the Lions didn't seem to have much left for Fallston in the semifinals and lost 1-0 to finish 9-6. Still Liberty was ranked 15th in the final metro poll behind Westminster (fourth), North Carroll (eighth) and Francis Scott Key (ninth).
In another rather surprising field hockey event, South Carroll won only four games but would have made the 3A regionals if Howard High had not won two games in two days to slip past the Cavaliers on the tiebreaker system.
It was quite a frustrating season for coach Stacy Stem, who took her team to the state 3A title in 1991 and a 3A runner-up position in 1992.
After having so much success in the previous four years at South Carroll, there was nothing Stem could do to light a fire under this year's team.
With all the success in the county this season, it was only natural that several players would be honored on the All-Metro team.
Ballard made the first team along with Key's Greene and Tregoning, and Key's Muller was a second-team choice along with South Carroll's Tracie DiDio.
And for the third straight season, Carroll County's Coach of the Year was also the All-Metro Coach of the Year.
Stem took the All-Metro honor in 1991, Powelson was the All-Metro Coach of the Year in 1992, and Hooper and Baker captured the top All-Metro coaching award this season.
Soccer, cross country wrap-up
Although the girls and boys soccer teams and cross country squads didn't win any state titles, there were some nice runs.
Lynn Stone guided the Liberty girls soccer team to the state 1A-2A semifinals for a second straight year and Jim Horn's South Carroll girls deserved a much better fate in the 3A-4A regionals against Centennial.
The Cavaliers were forced to face the talented Eagles without South Carroll's top goalkeeper, Kendra Pulis, and not even the presence of the county's Player of the Year, Amber Clutter, could overcome the loss of Pulis.
In cross country, the Westminster and Francis Scott Key boys teams came the closest to state titles.
The Owls and their All-Metro Coach of the Year, Jim Gilford, shocked Perry Hall and Arundel to finish second in the state 4A championships, and the Eagles, led by Damon Battaglia, took third in the state 1A championships.
Westminster's Tim Meerschaert finished fourth in the 4A title race and earned second-team All-Metro honors.
Two other Carroll runners gained second-team All-Metro accolades. They were Key's Shannon Hugg on the girls team and Liberty's Joe Ledda on the boys team.