Mount Hebron topples No. 1 Roland Park; Collins' goal is key play in Vikings' 9-8 victory

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Part II of the Revenge of the Vikings turned out to be more difficult than Part I.

Second-ranked Mount Hebron got a goal from Annie Collins with 1: 31 left to score a 9-8 upset of No. 1 Roland Park, a team that had won 24 straight games and had not lost since May 8, 1997.

Yesterday's victory was the second straight for the Vikings (2-0) over an Association of Independent Schools team that had beaten them last year. A week ago, they cruised through the second half to beat then-No. 2 Bryn Mawr, 9-5.

The two-time defending state champ Vikings, who started the season at No. 3, likely will take the top spot from the AIS champs in next week's Top 15 poll.

"I'm floating on cloud nine," said Vikings goalie Katelyn Hoffman, who had three terrific second-half saves. "They've been No. 1 for two years, but we have worked so hard for this."

Yesterday's victory avenged last year's 15-11 loss. The Vikings led by seven goals in that game before the Reds rallied to win.

Nothing like that would happen this time. Even though the visiting Vikings squandered a 5-1 first-half lead, they never trailed.

The Reds (2-1) rallied to tie with 8: 58 left after a wise decision by Kelsey Twist to forgo a free-position shot from the center hash mark and feed Betsy Gaines to her left. The re-direction caught Hoffman off guard and Gaines bounced her shot in from about five meters away.

Sparked by Meghan McInnes' point-blank save and interceptions by McInnes and Elizabeth Ryan, the Reds had several chances to go ahead. But after almost every fine play, they turned the ball over.

"We weren't able to capitalize on a lot of opportunities throughout the game, but especially when it came down to crunch time," said Roland Park coach Tara Kramer. "We'd come up with some great things, but we weren't able to make that transition from defense to attack. We weren't good at finishing."

The Reds only took 15 shots compared to 29 for the Vikings.

Give the Vikings defense much of the credit for the Reds' troubles in the midfield and on attack.

Unless the Reds were able to clear the ball out of the defensive end and break quickly on transition, the Vikings smothered the player with the ball wherever she was.

"Hebron's defense was just great," said Ryan, who scored a game-high three goals. "What we needed to do was settle down, spread out, pass it around and look for the open cutters, but we just seemed to be in a rush every time we went down the field."

Collins, however, stayed calm as she worked for an opening with time running down.

"I just saw an opening to my left and I went left-handed," said the junior, who drove through three defenders to get the winning shot. "I just knew we had to score."

With 41 seconds left, Lauren Kickham helped the Vikings stay ahead by taking a charge from Twist, who was going to the goal as Gaines connected with her from behind the crease.

After his team's quick start against the area's toughest competition, Vikings coach Chris Robinson said this group has the potential to be the best in his four years as coach.

"Certainly, the group is working great together," said Robinson, "and we've got a lot of talent. As long as we stay together, we should be pretty successful.

Pub Date: 3/31/99

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