Sophomore All-Americans Pam Gauss and Susan Mackley combined for two goals and two assists, as Harford Community College defeated Dean Junior College, 2-0, for the 20th annual National Junior College Athletic Association field hockey championship in Bel Air yesterday.
"Finally," said Judy Davlin, in her 22nd year as head coach, who had seen previous teams come up short.
The winning of this one began a year ago, right after Harford (12-2) had lost the championship game to Becker Junior College, 2-1.
Gauss, who had had an outstanding freshman year, was on the verge of transferring to Lock Haven University, but decided to return because she wanted to be part of a national championship team. That's how convinced she was, and the rest of the returnees felt the same way.
Davlin, who knew ahead of time the team had the potential to win it all, but who had been devastated in the past, including two runner-up finishes, could see it coming in the last few days.
"The week off between games helped," she said. "In the past, there was a final four, and you played back-to-back. In those situations, you put so much into the first game, it was hard to come back."
The Bel Air school, with eight sophomore starters who remembered what losing felt like last year, won its way to the title round a week ago when it whipped Ocean County (N.J.) College for the Southern Division title, 3-0.
"We didn't get much physical practice because of the rain, but there was some strong mental exercise," Davlin said. "The team was focused and ready."
Where close friends Gauss and Mackley (both of Fallston and who have played on teams together since fifth grade) took care of the scoring, it was the spirited play of sophomore wing Diana Rice (Bel Air) and the defensive heroics of a unit led by sophomore sweeper Lori Anderson (Fallston), that did the bulk of the work in thwarting the visitors from Franklin, Mass.
"I think I've been pretty consistent all year, but today, I was just so excited, and the excitement turned into adrenalin," Rice said.
Anderson summed it up by saying, "As a team, this is the best we've played together all year. A lot of individual talents came out at different times.
"It started building last week after our game with Ocean was postponed from Saturday to Sunday. Saturday night, we all got together and worked off some of our extreme excitement. Then we went out and did the job the next day.
"It was the same buildup during the week, but it was more controlled. Everybody knows each other's styles and we came together at the right time."