A day after Glenelg field hockey lost to River Hill on Oct. 18 , coach Nicole Trunzo met with her four-year starter and senior captain.
Paige Reese had played a significant role in the program’s success the past three seasons, starting with their 2A state semifinals appearance her freshman year. As a junior, Reese earned first-team All-County honors. The Gladiators won their first 15 games that year before falling to Hereford, 1-0, again in the final four.
But the overtime shutout to River Hill stung more than a typical regular season loss, which came a day after a 1-0 defeat to Marriotts Ridge. While the Hawks and Mustangs shared the county title, Glenelg fell short of that accomplishment for the first time in a decade. Trunzo sensed Reese was putting a lot of the blame on herself.
So, in the gym during one of Trunzo’s gym classes, she challenged Reese to forget about the team’s recent failures entering the postseason and take control of a group still more than capable of winning a state title. Committed to play Division I field hockey next season, Reese needed to start competing like a college player now.
Four victories later, which included a 1-0 triumph over Hereford in the state final, Glenelg had secured its first 2A championship since 2012.
“She’s a coachable kid, and I just think that high school mentality to a college mentality really changed in the postseason for us with her,” Trunzo said. “It reflected with the whole team.”
As for Reese, who finally captured that elusive state title to cap her high school career, the awards don’t stop there. She’s been named the Howard County Times/Columbia Flier field hockey Player of the Year.
She’s the third straight Glenelg player to win the award, following in the footsteps of goalkeeper Noelle Frost (2015) and defender Laney Treacy last season.
“She’s always had that potential, but she’s grown so much, even from the beginning of the year to the middle of the season this year to the very end,” Trunzo said. “She did an amazing job completing her season as strong as she could. Some people kind of peak. She just played her full potential, and it’s just so awesome because now she gets to carry it into Towson.”
A “hockey head” by Trunzo’s standards, Reese ditched the other sports — softball, soccer, swimming, lacrosse — and started playing field hockey year-round for the Howard Stampede in seventh grade. Her mother, Deanne, started her in the sport, while Stampede coach Doug Hamilton has fostered her love for it, serving as someone Reese calls “one of the biggest mentors of my life on and off the field.”
Since then, Hamilton, Trunzo and Wilde Lake coach Ginger Kincaid — who coached at Glenelg during Reese’s freshman and sophomore seasons — have been instrumental in Reese’s success.
In high school, each season brought unique challenges.
Reese started her freshman season, playing more as a forward than a midfielder. As a defensive-minded player, she wasn’t one of the top scorers but learned producing goals were just as important as preventing them.
She then moved to the right midfielder spot as a sophomore, where offense, defense, and transitioning the ball between the two suddenly all became her top priorities.
But after Kincaid stepped down before Reese’s junior season, and Glenelg promoted Trunzo from assistant coach to head coach, Reese made the most important position change of her career.
“I would say my growth was more towards the end of the my career, definitely my junior year and my senior year because I was put into the left midfield position, and that’s not my strong side,” Reese said. “I learned that I needed to have more of a field awareness, that I needed to be able to pass back as well as advance forward.”
“To play on the left side as a midfielder, you not only have to have endurance and communication, but you have to have skill and be really smart,” Trunzo added. “It’s one of the hardest places to play on the field, and that was my thought process of Paige taking that over.”
With three returning first-team All-County performers, one second-teamer and several emerging players on that team, Glenelg thought 2016 would be the year it’d capture its fourth state title.
For for much of the year, that seemed like the case. Reese developed into a first-team All-County player, while midfielders Kathryn Hoffman and Jenny Giampalmo made immediate contributions. The Gladiators ran through the regulation season undefeated. They blitzed their first three postseason opponents.
Then came the shutout loss to Hereford, an abrupt and disappointing end to a dominant season.
“Last year, I felt more upset, not just because we lost in the semifinals,” Reese said. “I wasn’t going to be playing with my good friend Grace [Olsen] anymore, and some of the other upperclassmen, because I was better friends with them than I was to the lowerclassmen and the people in my grade.”
Glenelg lost 10 seniors from that team, so even with Reese back in the fold, its overall performance dipped. As Reese forged stronger relationships with her younger teammates, the Gladiators suffered two early nonconference losses and couldn’t beat River Hill or Marriotts Ridge with a 10th straight county championship on the line. They entered the playoffs on a two-game losing streak and were all but guaranteed to see both teams again.
Amid these struggles, Reese still saw the fiery nature from her younger teammates. They cared — a lot — and wanted to prove they could compete with the state’s best teams.
Reese cared, too, almost to a fault.
“She’s a perfectionist on the field and she has the kindest heart ever, but that’s not always good for an athlete,” Trunzo said.
“‘You can’t say sorry,” Trunzo would tell her, “You just have to go out and fix it.”
And after that 1-on-1 meeting before the postseason, Reese made the necessary adjustments.
Trunzo saw her demeanor, confidence, poise and attitude strengthen. Reese took charge in practices and in games, critiquing even her teammates’ tiniest mistakes and helping to ease their nerves before elimination games.
“Any kind of uncertainty that she had I think left after having those two losses,” Trunzo said.
Glenelg avenged its county losses by beating Marriotts Ridge and River Hill in the section and region final, respectively, and continued rolling from there. In their third state semifinals appearance in four years, the Gladiators finally broke through with a 3-0 win over Kent Island. A familiar opponent waited in the championship game.
But unlike the past two meetings, Reese and her teammates ensured Hereford was on the wrong side of a 1-0 defeat.
“I definitely will remember it for the rest of my life,” Reese said. “I just remember when the buzzer went off and how relieved and excited I was that we were able to do that for a last year.”
Also named to the first-team:
Tori Raulin, Atholton, senior.
Raulin is a four-year All-County selection, and that only begins to describe what she has been able to accomplish during her high school career. She’s a two-time AAU Junior Olympian and one of the leading scorers in Raiders history with 69 goals and 47 assists.
“Her ability to play all aspects of the game well makes her a complete stand out,” coach Martie Dyer said.
Raulin closed her career in the Maryland senior game, where she registered two goals and an assist in her team’s 3-1 victory. She’s committed to play field hockey at Miami (OH).
Stephanie Gottwals, Atholton, junior.
Whether it’s one defender, two defenders or more, Gottwals will keep possession of the ball, coach Dyer said. It’s that type of “creative stick work” that helped Gottwals finish with 24 points (nine goals and six assists) this season.
“She never gives up on the ball and has innate field sense,” Dyer said.
A two-time first-team All-County selection, Gottwals should again be one of the county’s best players next season.
Gaby Hamburger, River Hill, senior.
Hamburger has been a point-producing machine since bursting onto the varsity scene as a freshman in 2014. As River Hill’s first four-year starter, she holds the school record with 87 goals and 41 assists, giving her 215 career points.
This season, she finished tied with Hammond senior Rachel McClanahan for the county lead with 20 goals and added nine assists. This marks the second straight season Hamburger is a first-team All-County selection after earning second-team honors as a sophomore.
“She capitalized on every opportunity and sometimes made something happen out of sheer will,” coach Shelly Chamness said. “Her legacy to the younger players is showing them the importance of being fearless, giving it all in every game, yet still being able to have fun.”
While Hamburger will play lacrosse at Princeton next year, Chamness maintained she would have been an “impact player” had she stuck with field hockey.
Kathryn Hoffman, Glenelg, sophomore.
Hoffman earned second-team All-County honors as a freshman and was even better this season. She was the leading goal scorer for Glenelg, which won its first 2A state title since 2012, and finished second on the team with 18 points.
Coach Nicole Trunzo said that Hoffman completed the Gladiators midfield with stick skills and speed and played a significant role on offensive and defensive corners.
Trunzo said she served as a key attacking player, quality goal scorer and an even better teammate.
“The best part about Kathryn is she is always happy to be with the team regardless of the outcome,” Trunzo said. “Before a game that we ended up not winning, Kathryn said ‘I freaking love this team.’ The next day at practice: same attitude and ready to better herself for her team.”
Jenny Giampalmo, Glenelg, junior.
Giampalmo did not play in Glenelg’s back-to-back losses to end the regular season due to an injury, so the Gladiators were delighted to have their junior midfielder back for the playoffs.
As the team’s inserter on corners and one of its leading goal scorers, Giampalmo played a large role in their 2A state title run.
“She has great field and game sense,” Trunzo said. “Anytime any team member needed support, Jenny would be there.”
Trunzo continued to list the traits that have made Giampalmo an impact performer: endurance, support, attitude, work ethic. She could finish a goal or stalwart an opposing penalty corner, Trunzo added. Her versatility proved vital to the Gladiators’ success.
Quinn Kindbom, River Hill, sophomore.
In her 18 years of coaching field hockey at River Hill, Shamness believes Kindbom is the best player she’s ever had.
“She is the catalyst for the offense, but has excellent defensive skills as well,” Chamness said. “Quinn adds a dimension to the team that not many players can. She has incredible stick skills, athletic ability, and field sense.”
A second-year starter in the midfield, Kindbom had eight assists and set up countless other scoring opportunities. And when she needed to score, she delivered.
Tied in overtime against Glenelg on Oct. 18, Kindbom netted the game-winning tally to clinch the Hawks’ first county title since 2008. She finished the season with 10 goals.
Bailey Schwab, River Hill, senior.
As a three-year starter, two-time team MVP and senior captain, Schwab was the “heart” of the Hawks, Shamness said.
Schwab only tallied 17 points (five goals and seven assists) from the defensive midfielder position, but Shamness said her impact went far beyond the statistics.
Schwab was the “field general” who directed both the offensive and defensive players. She also had the best vision on the team, Chamness said, and combined with Kindbom to control game flow. But above all, she influenced the program with her leadership.
Next year, Schwab will continue her field hockey career at Johns Hopkins.
“She ... never gives up or lets down for a second,” Chamness said. “This is also her legacy to the team: to put the team first, always practice and play the hardest and never quit.”
Annie Ryan, Mt. Hebron, senior.
Ryan, a three-year starter, was Mt. Hebron’s best all-around player this season, coach Jeanette Ireland said.
Ryan played with a “tremendous passion” for the Vikings, who finished 11-6 and advanced to the 3A East region final. She scored two goals, tallied three assists and was a part of the team’s offensive and defensive corner unit.
“All about attitude and effort,” Ireland said.
Zoe Summa, Howard, senior.
Howard has been a competitive county team the past four years, and coach Kristen Vance credits Summa for being a significant part of that.
Summa is a four-year varsity starter who served as the Lions center midfielder but played an integral part on defense and during offensive corners.
Next year, Summa will play Division I field hockey at Sacred Heart.
“She is an asset to the game wherever you put her on the field,” Vance said.
Maddy O’Brien, Glenelg, senior.
While Reese, Hoffman, Giampalmo paced the attack, O’Brien was a captain and served as the leader of a defense that nearly had as many shutouts (nine) as goals against (10). She help shut down opposing attacks from the center back position.
“She is strong, assertive and kind all at the same time,” Trunzo said. “She was a great influence on building confidence to individual players, newcomers and the team as a whole.”
Trunzo said O’Brien’s biggest strength was playing defense with an offensive mindset. She attacked any attacker she faced and motivated her teammates in the midfield to do the same.
Emy Nelson, Marriotts Ridge, senior.
Along with Emily Talentino and Bailey Christianson, Nelson has headlined the Mustangs defense the past two seasons.
Coach Stacie Gado relied even more on Nelson at the beginning of this season. After losing seven starters from a year ago, Gado said she used several different lineups in the midfield and attack in hopes of finding combinations that worked. She never had to worry about who her starting defense would be.
Behind a sturdy backline, the Mustangs shut out Glenelg on Oct. 17 to win at least a share of the county title for the second time in three years.
“Emy is a quiet leader on the team, but don't let that be misleading,” Gado said. “She is an aggressive player, and when she is fired up for a game, that has a domino effect on her teammates.”
Nelson will play college field hockey at Frostburg University.
Caroline Kral, River Hill, junior.
Kindom scored the goal that clinched River Hill’s county championship this year, but it was Kral who made 19 saves to preserve a shutout in an eventual 1-0 overtime win on Oct. 18.
Kral finished the season with a save percentage of 92 percent, making 150 saves while allowing 13 goals.
Her dominance in net also came against better competition than her past two seasons as starting goalkeeper. The Hawks moved up into the county’s top tier this fall, in addition to playing crossover games with the premier Anne Arundel County teams.
“She is one of the most confident goalies that the team has ever had and has the skills to match,” Chamness said.