More and more, the Francis Scott Key field hockey team is proving that this is not your typical squad of seasons past.
Five days after upsetting then-No. 8 North Carroll, the host Eagles produced another shocker by edging sixth-ranked Westminster, 1-0, in Union Bridge yesterday.
It was the first time in recent memory that Francis Scott Key, ranked 10th this year, had completed a season sweep against both North Carroll and Westminster.
The transformation from perennial runner-up to undisputed leader in the race for the county championship has baffled some Eagles players.
"I can't explain it," said senior forward Ashley Eusantos, who scored the game's only goal. "I think we're the same team from last year. It's just a matter of who gets the good pass, and we've been getting it."
Senior midfielder Sarah Guynn said she thinks the key lies in the development of the three forwards and three midfielders - all of whom are seniors.
"All of us have played together since the fifth grade," Guynn said. "As far as jelling together as a team, we've been able to do that earlier than previous years."
With South Carroll tomorrow and Liberty on Oct. 13, Francis Scott Key - which improved to 2-0 in the county and 2-1 overall - is halfway to owning a county title, but coach Alison Weiss said her team will work on some things stemming from yesterday's matchup. The biggest priority may be ball possession, as Westminster had more offensive forays and shots (9-3) in the first half than the Eagles.
Key scored on its first shot of the game at the 6:25 mark of the first half. Off a free hit just outside the arc, senior defender Ashley Norris centered the ball to Eusantos, who originally intended to pass it to a teammate on the weak side.
"I stopped it and just thought, 'I just better shoot it,'" Eusantos recalled. "So I shot and drove it into the right corner."
Throughout the game, the Owls, who dropped to 1-1, attempted to even the score, and their best chance came at the 11:12 mark of the second half when senior forward Laura Yingling was awarded a penalty stroke.
But Eagles junior goalkeeper Tessa Gist (11 saves) batted the ball down with her glove.
Owls coach Judie Puckett said the key was missed opportunities, including nine corner chances.
"We just couldn't put it in the cage," she said.