Hereford coach Tammy Mundie drilled her team on penalty strokes for 45 minutes Tuesday just in case yesterday's state semifinal came down to a shootout.
Sure enough, the No. 12-ranked Bulls won on penalty strokes, but the game never reached a shootout.
Melanie Schwartzmann converted a stroke in each half to give the Bulls a 2-0 victory over Poolesville in a Class 1A semifinal at Goucher College.
The victory sent the Bulls (14-3) to the final for the first time since 1985. Shooting for their first title in 20 years, the Bulls will meet four-time defending champ Pocomoke, from Worcester County, at 2 p.m. Saturday at Goucher.
Yesterday, Mundie had no trouble deciding who would take the first penalty stroke. After the ball wedged between Poolesville goalie Becca Frick's feet with 7: 47 left in the first half, Mundie sent Schwartzmann to the line even though the junior defender had not taken a stroke all season.
"We've been practicing them since the beginning of the season, and she's the one who can put it in 99 percent of the time," said Mundie. "She's never been under pressure like this before, though, so I have to give it to her. She really came through for us."
Schwartzmann's strategy was the same on each stroke -- shoot high and to the right. The 5-3 Frick was left reaching.
"She got a piece of both of them," said Indians coach Nancy Hopkinson, "but they're hard to stop high up when you're her size."
On the first stroke, Schwartzmann was so nervous she couldn't even watch her shot.
"I just held my breath and closed my eyes," she said. "I was crying, and I was trying to wipe the tears away. I was afraid to look. I didn't even see it go in. I just turned around, and everyone was cheering."
Eight minutes into the second half, Schwartzmann took another stroke after an Indians' defender stopped the ball on the goal line with her body. Eyes open this time, Schwartzmann drove the ball to the same target.
"It didn't even cross my mind [to shoot to another spot]," said Schwartzmann. "I knew where my spot was, and I shot it there. That's how I get my goalie at practice."
In addition to Schwartzmann's dead-eye shooting and three saves by goalie Jen Kostick, the Bulls played with an energy level they had not shown in previous trips to the final four.
The past two years at Goucher, the Bulls seemed intimidated. Yesterday, they played aggressively and dominated the Indians (12-3-1) early and through most of the second half.
In the opening minutes, the Bulls had a couple of breakaways that ended in the ball rolling over the end line just outside the post. The early charge set the tone for the rest of the game.
"The mentality coming out here this year was a difference of night and day," said Sarah Warner, the Bulls' second-team All-Metro midfielder. "These girls weren't intimidated. They were so fired up to win.
"This is the first year we've been able to walk off the field and hold our heads high. It's so much easier walking off the field knowing you dominated and knowing you won the game."
Pub Date: 11/12/98