Last fall, as Perry Hall's junior varsity field hockey team played at Catonsville High, Gator freshman Breanna Sudano suddenly collapsed in cardiac arrest with 30 seconds left in a 2-1 victory. Sudano, who had scored both goals, lay motionless on the turf as CPR was administered by parents and coaches.
Friday night, fans attending the girls lacrosse double-header between host Perry Hall and Joppatowne wore smiles of relief, and players chanted "We want Bre," as Breanna was proclaimed an honorary captain for the team.
The 2011 varsity field hockey coach, Chastin Faith, presented her with roses, and the lacrosse team wore red T-shirts that carried the slogan "Bre-Strong" and were adorned with a heart and lacrosse sticks.
A teammate, senior Kristen Meehan, who was there during that harrowing evening last September, gave a speech about the friend she has known since her sophomore year.
"For anyone that knows her, she is an extremely caring, funny and energetic person," she said. "There is never a time she is not dancing or joking around with people and her high spirit is contagious to anyone around her."
Breanna's courage and strength also are contagious, her teammate said: "I know I just don't speak for myself when I say Bre is my hero."
Proceeds from Friday's games went to the American Heart Association in Breanna's honor.
Breanna has been the manager for the lacrosse team during her recovery from a four-hour open-heart surgery performed by Dr. Sunjay Kaushal in October.
"She had a congenital heart condition. Her coronary arteries were coming off the aorta in a different way, which is unusual but not uncommon," Kaushal said. "Her heart had a low blood flow and stopped working until the coaches [and parents] resuscitated her."
Kaushal, who believes Breanna will be able to play sports again in the fall, credited the actions of those at the scene for keeping her alive. "It's gratifying to be able to fix a problem like hers, but the real heroes are the coaches [and parents] who gave her CPR."
Dr. Peter Gaskin, who first diagnosed the heart defect, is now monitoring her progress.
"We are watching her through her rehab to determine when it's safe to get her back on the field," he said. "I've seen a lot of unusual things and a lot of true miracles in my career, but this is one of the two that really stands out."
Both physicians are from the University of Maryland Children's Hospital, where Sudano was treated.
Among those involved in administering CPR at the field were Faith, Catonsville JV coach Christine Ehrlichman and parents Beth Beautz, Shelly Hunt and Melissa Law.
Beautz was there to watch a friend's daughter compete in the varsity game. "I saw a woman run across the field, and I knew it didn't look right," Beautz said.
Having just completed a course in advanced cardiac life support — which emphasizes more compressions per minute — Beautz began the process. "I just took over for the coach doing compressions," Beautz said.
Baltimore County paramedics from Medic Unit 4 arrived at the scene and used a defibrillator.
"I actually am very proud of myself for overcoming a big bump in my life because usually I would be playing sports all year round," said Breanna, who plays lacrosse, basketball, soccer and ice hockey.
He goal for next fall is simple: "To get back and be able to play sports."