The difference between a good team — one that wins games because of one player — and a great team — one that wins championships because of teamwork — in Maryland field hockey often comes down to figuring out how to play with a do-it-all athlete like Anna Rowthorn-Apel.
Tenth-ranked Walter Johnson knew this would be its challenge entering 2013 as the defending 4A west regional champions. The Wildcats proved they were capable of taking the weight off of Rowthorn-Apel — and scoring on 2012 ISL finalist Bullis — in a 4-0 win at home.
“It was nice to see we were able to pull her out of the game and still hold it together as a team,” Walter Johnson Coach Erika Benke-Murray said. “In the scrimmages they relied heavily on her, so it was nice to see that trying to work without her in practices is actually working.”
The Wildcats’ first goal came less than six minutes into the game off a corner and a series of short passes in the circle until junior center forward Christina Curtis tapped the ball into the right side. Rowthorn-Apel added another about five minutes later with a drive from the right.
Bullis’s offense didn’t make it into Walter Johnson’s circle until about 20 minutes in, thanks to a dominant control by the Wildcats (1-0) in the midfield and standout defense from junior Emily Scheele.
The Wildcats ran into trouble when trying to get past Bullis (0-1) defender Jordan Czerwiec on the left side or containing midfielder Jessica Mays and her quick stick skills in the center, but a goal from junior forward Claire Lorenzetti off a corner at 14 minutes into the second half brought the score to 3-0.
“We need to fix some stuff, but that was great for a first game,” Curtis said.
Fixing some stuff includes keeping their sticks down — Benke-Murray has the team spend part of practice playing with half-size, sawed-off sticks if they are slacking on keeping their sticks to the ground — and making sure everyone contributes.
“We’re working on it,” Curtis said of avoiding too much reliance on one player. “We need to work on every aspect of teamwork because when you can all rely on each other, that’s when you can play your best.”