Field hockey notebook
Stafford field hockey returns to elite status
Back in August, the Stafford field hockey team held an alumnae event to dedicate a sign recognizing the 2005 Virginia AAA state championship squad. As part of the festivities, the program's current and former players in attendance - dating back to the Class of 1954 - split up for a few exhibition games. And for dinner, senior Kathleen Gayle's mother, Wendy, cooked nearly 60 pounds of barbecue.
Besides bringing together 50 years of field hockey tradition, the event was intended to bring back some of the pride associated with Stafford's program, a perennial state playoff contender that has struggled to match such lofty expectations the past few years, highlighted by a loss to Riverbend in the Commonwealth District semifinals last fall.
But with a 2-1 win over four-time defending state champion Frank W. Cox on Aug. 26 at the National Training Center in Virginia Beach, Stafford (6-0, 4-0) has restored its status as one of the area's elite teams, following the Cox win with a 6-2 blowout victory last week over Mountain View, last year's state runner-up.
"We had to realize that [the Cox win] was only one game, but it definitely showed to everyone else that Stafford is back," said senior forward Taylor Bailey, the team's leading scorer thus far with four goals and seven assists.
Bailey, a James Madison recruit, credited this season's turnaround to a dynamic passing game and a new sense of confidence stemming from the Cox win.
Anne Arundel's top billing
Severna Park has won five consecutive state titles, and has dominated Maryland's powerful 4A East Region since it moved up from 3A in 2007.
South River squandered two different two-goal leads in the 4A East Region final last year, and Severna Park eventually won, 4-3, in penalty strokes.
South River has eight new starters, many of whom will be seeing their first significant playing time against Severna Park, but Seahawks Coach Katie Corcoran said her team is ready for the test.
"It will be a challenge," Corcoran said. "We have a lot of sophomores starting, but I think they'll step up and fill the role."
Cougars Coach Laura Williams said she will not rush to bring the senior back into game action.
"Rachel has been our rock the past two years," Williams said. "We're going to make the decision [to play her in games] when we really need her. For the playoffs, I want her to be 100 percent."...
Defending Howard County champion Glenelg is also missing its starting goalkeeper, senior Christy Bishop, whom Coach Ginger Kincaid said has been "sick for a couple of weeks." Kincaid called up Amanda Hoyt from the junior varsity before Glenelg's doubleheader Saturday in the South River Invitational Tournament, and Hoyt made four saves in a 5-1 win over Bryn Mawr and 13 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss against South River. ...