St. Paul's senior Jenny Landsman wants to finish her high school field hockey career with bookend championships -- the one the Gators won when she was a freshman and the one she hopes to win tomorrow.
Landsman did her part yesterday to boost the Gators into the title game, contributing an insurance goal, in the No. 4 Gators' 2-0 victory over No. 5 St. Mary's in the inaugural Independent Athletic Association of Maryland tournament semifinal. Now, the Gators (12-2-1) move on to meet No. 1 Bryn Mawr for the title at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Towson University.
"I'm so excited," said Landsman, who helped the Gators reach the Association of Independent Schools title game twice in three years. "This has been my goal since the first day of the season -- to go to the championship."
Yesterday, the host Gators took the lead midway through the first half when Elaine Belitsos scored on a second effort after a broken corner play. Landsman first attempted a shot that Saints goalie Addie Lewis stopped, but Belitsos fired in the rebound.
After that, the Gators combined a top-notch midfield game, led by Molly Ahearn and Lauren Dahdah, with speed on the forward line to get the jump on the Saints (10-4-4), who made their first appearance in the semifinals. St. Paul's moved the ball down the alleys away from the Saints' midfield strength and threatened on numerous fast breaks.
"They found a way to expose us in the midfield," said Saints midfielder Courtney Thornton, "and we sometimes had a hard time recovering. Then, they'd get a man up on us."
Left wing Sarah Sloane set up Landsman's goal with a textbook break down her alley. She carried the ball about 40 yards down the side, dodged two Saints, cut toward the circle and fired a reverse-stick pass to Landsman, who broke with her down the middle and deflected the pass into the right corner of the cage.
"The ball came right across, the goalie committed and I was there to put it in," said Landsman, "but Sarah did all the work."