That sudden gust of wind last night as the final horn sounded at Severna Park was no mystery.
It was a collective sigh of relief from the Annapolis Panthers.
After building a 9-3 lead midway through the second half, the No. 7-ranked Panthers had to survive a furious comeback by the host No. 8 Falcons before escaping with a 10-9 win in the Class 3A-4A East region final.
"We had a nice, comfortable lead, but we made a couple bad passes and allowed them to catch up," said Annapolis coach Dave Gehrdes. "A good team like this is not going to roll over
and give in."
The Panthers (18-1) advanced to this weekend's Class 3A-4A state semifinals at Catonsville Community College, where they will face Liberty, a winner over Walt Whitman last night.
The victory avenged last year's 6-5 playoff loss to the Falcons (12-3) and put Annapolis in prime position to make a run at the state title.
Many feel that Severna Park, a state finalist last season, was Annapolis' biggest hurdle.
"We felt whoever won this game had a real good shot at winning the states," Gehrdes said.
Led by Kelly Dirks (four goals) and Kristy Dirks (two), the Panthers jumped on top quickly, building a 6-1 lead after the first 18 1/2 minutes.
"They outhustled us on ground balls and draws," said Severna Park coach Carin Peterson. "When you get a team with a very talented attack, you really have to take everything away from them."
Down by six goals, the Falcons -- paced by Sara Zuckerman and Jess Gaither, who each had three goals -- rallied to score six of last seven goals, including three straight in the final 1: 26 to pull to 10-9.
But time ran out on them.
"If we had a couple more minutes, who knows?" Peterson said. "But that's the game. Time ran out. You've got to do it within the 50 minutes."
Pub Date: 5/14/98