Severna Park dominates like no one else HIGH SCHOOL FIELD HOCKEY PREVIEW


Relentless, astonishing and punishing.

All of the above describe Severna Park's field hockey domination in Anne Arundel County and the state.

The Falcons have won 37 consecutive games, are 77-3 in the last five years, have captured three straight state 4A championships and eight state titles overall, won the county championship 16 of the past 17 years and captured regional titles 14 of those seasons, and lost only two games in the county in the last nine years.

The eight state championships are more than any school at any level has won.

Almost enough to make the opposition throw in the towel and certainly enough to create some complacency when the team takes the field.


Wrong, says coach Lil Shelton who has been on the sidelines all of the 20 years the school has been playing field hockey.

"I don't need to get these girls motivated," said Shelton. "None of them want to be on the team that loses a game. They are all very dedicated."

So just maybe one season will come along when the Falcons graduate so many talented players that dedication and hard work won't be enough to get by.

Never mind that theory.

The Severna Park junior varsity team has been unbeaten for 17 straight years and provides Shelton with more than enough players to keep the beat going.

"We lose 10 to 12 players every season but we have more on the way to replace them," she said.

In all, Shelton has compiled a 256-36-5 record at the school and shows no signs of getting tired of the obvious pressure to win big every season.

"It's fun to keep on being the best," she said. "Each team is different and they have to learn to work together and make their own tradition. Molding new players into the rest of the team each year is a challenge. We get good athletes who want to come here and play field hockey. We have a good history."

Shelton provides the players with a big-time atmosphere similar to what they might experience at the college level.

Posters are placed around the school before games, the players eat breakfast in the gymnasium on game days, money is raised to give the team some extra frills and they win a lot of games.

If all the winning has become somewhat routine by now, there are other accomplishments the Falcons strive for. Such as the number of goals scored in a season that reaches to 16 games if the team makes the state finals.

Last year, the Falcons scored 49 times, which is a little more than three a game in a sport that teams often play two overtimes before producing a 1-0 winner.

It is obvious Shelton is an excellent coach who gets the most out of her many talented players and finds a way to keep them all happy.

However, she is the first to admit that a prolific summer youth field hockey program in the county is one of the main reasons for her unmatched success.

Shelton has been running that county program for eight years in Severna Park and encourages youngsters from all over the county to attend.

"The ninth-graders come in every year with a lot of skills and are anxious to prove themselves," said Shelton. "Most of them are already familiar with our program because they've been to our games and watched their sisters play for us."

The sister connection.

That is another important part of the Severna Park field hockey act.

There are 13 older and younger sisters on the varsity and junior varsity teams this season.

The Hancocks lead the way with three. Kristen, a senior, and Lauren, a junior, are varsity midfielders, and Erin, a freshman, is on the junior varsity.

With the arrival of two six-team Northern and Southern divisions in the county this season, no one wanted to be in the same division with Severna Park in field hockey.

The Falcons are in the South and are heavy favorites to meet the North winners for the county championship. In past seasons, the two teams with the best records at the end of the season played for the title.

Drawing the short straws and winding up in the South were Broadneck, Annapolis, Arundel, Southern and South River.

Broadneck was the last team in the county to beat Severna Park, scoring a 1-0 overtime victory on Tracey Peck's goal in 1989. Severn owns the other county win over the Falcons in the last nine years (1986).

Two of the three losses in the last five years came in the state 4A championship game in 1990 and 1991 to Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Westminster, respectively.

Queen Anne's owns the other win over Severna Park in the past five years, upsetting the Falcons on the last day of the 1992 regular season. Then the 37-game winning streak started in the 4A regionals in 1992.

And just how do the other teams in the county feel about the Severna Park run?

"I'm not leaving Anne Arundel County until I beat Severna Park," said Meade coach Kelly Holden. "Two years down the road, I believe we'll have a good game with Severna Park. We'll have a good team. We're starting to get some stability in our program. For the first time in the field hockey history of our school, we have our junior varsity coach [Niki Meshbesher] returning for a second year."

Annapolis coach Jennifer Russell said: "Severna Park is incredible. She [Shelton] gets so much talent. She's been there a long time and when a coach does that, the team reaps the benefits. Coaching is her life and she may never retire. Our athletes are as good as Severna Park's, but they have better skills and they are Severna Park when they take the field. Just their reputation counts for some intimidation."

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