Garrison Forest coach Micul Ann Morse knew it was a matter of time before her seventh-ranked Grizzlies scored yesterday against third-ranked St. Paul's.
It's just that she would have preferred they not take so long to do it.
After more than 55 minutes of scoreless field hockey, and numerous good chances for both teams, senior Kate Wheeler scored the game's only goal with 4: 15 left, as host Garrison Forest knocked off the previously unbeaten Gators, 1-0, in a key early-season Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Division game.
"I think we had some really good chances. I just felt we were going to score," said Morse. "We felt we were a better team than this team, and we wanted to show it in the score."
Morse, whose team outshot St. Paul's, 13-8, said she was dreading the prospect of a scoreless tie "because I felt that we dominated."
And after an early conference loss to 1998 Association of Independent Schools co-champion Bryn Mawr, as well as a non-conference loss to Philadelphia's Episcopal Academy, to come away empty would have been a tough blow for the senior-laden team, which expects to compete for a title this year.
With time winding down, and a scoreless tie looming, Garrison Forest (3-2-2, 2-1) got on the board. After a scramble in front of the goal, Wheeler took a pass from Mindy Walman and sent a shot past goalie Stephanie Kahntroff.
"It was one of those funny hockey goals where 8,000 people hit it in there and it finally went in," said Wheeler. "I just remember shooting toward the goal."
"I think we played hard the whole game, but we just had a lapse," said St. Paul's coach Heather O'Neill, whose Gators (4-1, 3-1) were coming off a 7-0 thrashing of Seton Keough on Monday.
"It's a little bit of a setback, but it lets us look at our game and kind of reevaluate a couple things. We're a strong team and we'll bounce back. We expect to have a second chance at this team [in the playoffs]."
For Garrison Forest, however, the performance was a strong indicator of how far the team has come since the start of the season.
"We just feel like we're getting better each game," said Morse, who had high praise for what she perceived as an "intense team effort."
"All of them supported each other and put so much pressure on, at times, that they came up with balls that St. Paul's thought they had. Everybody on defense had a big play at a different time. There's just a lot more combination stuff that's happening, and people are really working together. I think we're beginning to settle into who we are."