Regular season bad memory for region champ Wilde Lake Getting hot: Three straight wins have put the Wildecats in the state field hockey semifinals after an 0-11-1 regular season.


If it wasn't true, no one would believe it. But it's really happening, one of the most remarkable playoff runs in state history.

And it's happening in Howard County.

Wilde Lake's field hockey team was 0-11-1 in the regular season. The Wildecats scored four goals and allowed 30.

But thanks to the open playoff format, Wilde Lake still has a chance to win the state title.

Don't laugh.

The Wildecats are just two games away from doing just that.

"It still hasn't sunk in yet," said Wilde Lake coach Karen Doerrler. "It's pretty amazing."

The Wildecats have beaten Lackey, Southern (AA) and Hammond -- all by 2-1 scores -- to win the Class 2A South regional title. They play North East tomorrow at 3 p.m. in a state semifinal game at Goucher College.

"I knew this team had potential," said Doerrler, whose team beat Hammond in overtime Thursday after losing to the Golden Bears, 4-1, in the regular season. "I'm just glad they proved it."

Even though Wilde Lake finished 1-11-1 last year, Doerrler predicted a .500 season this year. But by the seventh game against Glenelg, the Wildecats were winless and had been outscored, 17-2.

Then the bottom fell out in a 4-0 loss to Glenelg.

"I was extremely frustrated and let them know it," said Doerrler, who has coached every game this season except one with her infant daughter, Linda, strapped to her back. "The reason was not that we were losing, but that we weren't playing well. I broke down in tears in front of them. It was the first time I've done that in eight years of coaching.

"It wasn't any coaching device, and I wouldn't suggest it to anyone. I wasn't very proud of it. It was just something I did. I had had enough."

At that moment, the Wildecats became a different team.

"That's what changed it for me," said junior goalie Anna Adler, echoing the sentiment of the team. "She was so emotional. She seemed to want it more than us, and we were the ones playing. We found that what she had in her heart we had in our hearts, too."

So the Wildecats became a team with heart, and even though they didn't win, they improved. In their next two games, they played Centennial tough and tied Atholton, 0-0. Centennial and Atholton were county co-champions.

Throughout the losing, senior co-captains Alex Roe and Jen Frieman had to find a way to keep up the team's morale.

"They wanted it the most and kept the team wanting it, too," Doerrler said.

"I never believed once that we stunk," said Roe, who was on the Wildecats' team of two years ago that finished second in the county and advanced to the regional semifinals. "Most of the players here haven't been on a winning team. They don't know what it's like. I told them once you win, you won't want to lose."

"It feels great," said Frieman. "It's contagious. You can't lose after you win."

Wilde Lake had two things going for it as it entered the playoffs -- better overall play and a favorable draw. Then it got an extra boost from Katie Troutman, a sophomore forward who scored two of her team's four regular-season goals.

Troutman has scored four of her team's six playoff goals.

"I'm really happy," Troutman said. "I think we're playing up to our ability now. All season we've had the capability to play this way. ++ We're finally doing it."

"Now that we've won, it's like all the losing during the season hasn't happened," said Roe.

If this magical playoff run ends tomorrow, Doerrler will be disappointed only if her team doesn't play to its ability.

"As long as the girls play well and are proud of themselves," Doerrler said. "That's important."

But why stop now?

"We're not giving up until we win the states," Frieman said. "We've come this far, we're not going to give up now."

Said Roe: "I can't stop thinking how strange it is. We had such a terrible regular season and now we're the regional champs."

And two games away from the state title.


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