This has been a very competitive county field hockey season. Eight games have gone into overtime -- five stayed as ties -- and 11 have been decided by one goal.
Fittingly, Glenelg and Long Reach will play tomorrow to decide whether the county will have one champion or co-champions.
Glenelg already has clinched at least a share of the county title, its first since 1992. When the Gladiators beat Mount Hebron, 1-0, last Tuesday, they improved to 7-1. That gave them 14 points.
Glenelg could have won the title outright last Friday, but was upset, 2-0, at Wilde Lake. The Gladiators' loss, and Long Reach's 8-0 win over Atholton, means the Lightning (5-1-2, 12 points) can claim a share of the title with a victory tomorrow at home.
"We never ruled it out, but it kind of surprises me that we still have a chance for first," said Long Reach senior Bridgette Burkhardt, whose team started the county season 1-1-2 after games against four of the top six teams.
Long Reach coach Kelly Snyder said her team "held up our end by having only one loss. That allowed us a chance."
Long Reach was 0-8-1 in the county when the school opened in 1996. The Lightning followed with records of 2-6-1 and 5-4.
"After four years we're on the other end," said Burkhardt. "All the hard work paid off."
Glenelg has worked hard, too.
"Everybody keeps saying its luck, but we definitely deserve it," said Sarah Frederick, one of only three seniors on the Gladiators. "We've worked hard."
And Frederick said her team doesn't want to share the title.
"We want it for Glenelg," she said.
The Gladiators played Wilde Lake without starting midfielder Phoebe Kuesters and Cortney Hill-Dukehart, the first player off the bench. Kelly O'Connor played but had the look of a prize fighter after a ball hit her in the left eye during Thursday's practice. And Leah Burger suffered a bloody nose in the Wilde Lake game after getting hit by the ball.
"Things kept happening," said Frederick. "We were afraid and we weren't putting everything we had out there."
Kuesters cut her right hand Thursday at the base of her index finger and needed three stitches. Hill-Dukehart was sick.
Kuesters said she'll play tomorrow.
"My doctor said as long as I'm comfortable and can hold the stick I can play," said Kuesters, who put her hand through a glass panel on her front door as she left for practice Thursday. "I'm definitely playing. I don't care how much it hurts."
Big win for Wildecats
Wilde Lake showed good improvement last season, and this year's team had hoped to build on that success.
Instead, the Wildecats finished 3-5-1 in the county, one win shy of what they had last year.
Senior goalie Annie Troutman said this year's team was more focused and got along better then last year's squad. But for whatever reason, that did not translate to more wins.
"It was disappointing to see us practice so hard and want things so bad and not put it together when it counted," said Troutman. "We knew we could have played better in the games we lost."
Wilde Lake released some of its frustration last Friday when it defeated visiting Glenelg, 2-0, on goals by Laura Rothchild and Julie Bergin. It was the Gladiators' first loss of the season.
"We knew this was our last chance in county to show people what we could do," said Troutman, who had a team sleep-over Thursday night. "We told everyone to focus on the game and not get frustrated if you do something wrong."
If you're going to beat a good team its always nice to beat them at a critical point."
Glenelg coach Ginger Kincaid praised the Wildecats. "They're a very nice team and they played like they wanted to win," she said.
Troutman said the Wildcats "put together 60 minutes of good hockey and we hadn't been able to do that in the past."
Troutman, who had never beaten Glenelg in two previous attempts, complimented Glenelg's sportsmanship.
"That had to be a big letdown," Troutman said, "because I wouldn't expect to lose to us if I were on Glenelg, especially the seniors. They were very, very nice about it. They had good sportsmanship."
Six teams ended the regular season Friday. Here are their county records: Atholton 0-9; Hammond 5-2-2, Howard 2-6-1; Mount Hebron 6-2-1; River Hill 4-3-2; Wilde Lake 3-5-1.
Centennial plays host to Oakland Mills tomorrow, then opens the playoffs Tuesday with a game at Howard. The Eagles beat the Lions, 2-1, in overtime last Friday at Howard. The Lions have played well their past four games, taking Long Reach into overtime and shutting out Walkersville and Atholton.