Broadneck senior Melissa Puzak knows how tough it is to be in goal during the playoffs. She was the starting goalie for last year's 4A state championship lacrosse team. This fall, her ability to score led to a regional field hockey title as she notched the game-winning stroke against South River in Friday's 4A East Region championship. The Bruins advanced to yesterday's state semifinal at Goucher College, their first semifinal appearance since 1986.
"I don't have the mind-set of scoring," said Puzak, who missed two penalty strokes in the regional semifinals against Chesapeake. "I want to stop the team from getting it in. I was so nervous. We had them the day before that at Chesapeake and I missed mine. I didn't know what we'd do if I didn't make it. I felt like it was so much pressure but Coach [Melissa] Quigley said it would be more pressure to be the goalie."
On the contrary, senior goalie Lisa Scarsborough said she was relaxed during the second round of penalty strokes.
"All I think about is I need to stop the ball," said Scarsborough, who had seven saves in regulation and five in penalty strokes. "I think about how my team is there and they're all rooting for me and behind me 100 percent.". . .
Severna Park's season ended eerily similar to last year, as the Falcons were again eliminated by Fallston in the 3A East Region title game. After two seven-on-seven double overtimes, Severna Park lost, 4-3, in penalty strokes. . . .
Top-seeded Severn lost, 5-0, to St. Paul's in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference semifinals, and No. 3 Spalding fell, 2-1, to Roland Park in Thursday's quarterfinal round.
Hoffman Runs Past Gophers As an eighth-grader, Severna Park senior running back Jeff Hoffman was too heavy to play youth football. Now, his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame is his biggest asset. Hoffman rushed for 241 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries in a 24-7 victory over visiting Glen Burnie on Friday. For the season, Hoffman has 1,192 yards on 193 carries for the Falcons (7-2, 7-2).
"I practiced with [a 140-pound-limit youth team] for a couple weeks," in eighth grade, Hoffman said with a laugh. "I was probably 190 pounds in eighth grade. I was way over the limit."
Hoffman couldn't have done it, though, without a little help from the junior class president. Center Rob Dooley has been making critical blocks all season. Senior offensive tackle Jacob Baxter, the team's only returning lineman, also made key stops against the Gophers. Baxter missed the first three weeks of the preseason with an injury and had to shift from guard to tackle.
"I had to learn a whole new position, and I guess I'm doing good at it," said Baxter, also a lacrosse player. "I hated it the first two weeks but now I'm getting the hang of it."
Linebacker-offensive tackle Matt Lacher also made critical blocks on the line and had two sacks.
Two Is Better Than One South River senior Gerald Von Ahn chooses to work in the men's department at Sears in the winter and spring instead of playing sports. That work ethic pays off in the fall, as Von Ahn's efforts as a quarterback and safety have led the Seahawks to their first two-win season in three years. Von Ahn's two touchdowns sparked the offense in a 46-6 win against North County on Friday. He scored on a 17-yard run and also snagged his fourth interception of the season, which he ran back 35 yards for another touchdown.
"I was just standing there and the guy just threw it right to me," said Von Ahn, who is in his first year as a starter. "Bobby Drescher threw a great block and I ran right into the end zone. We've been waiting for this for a long time. It's great to have more than one win. Hopefully, we can build on it."
The Next 'Wojo' After finishing 48th at the state cross-country meet last year, North County junior Joe Wojciechowski thought he was a no-name runner at the beginning of the season. He was wrong. Duke fans all over the country would recognize his last name, as he is the cousin of Steve Wojciechowski, an assistant men's basketball coach at Duke and formerly one of the top defensive players in the nation. As the county's top finisher at Thursday's 4A East Region meet at Baybrook Park, "Wojo" has made a name for himself. He placed sixth in a personal-best time of 16 minutes 37 seconds and is looking to finish among the top 15 at the Nov. 9 state meet at Hereford High School in Parkton.
"All the people who already had a name for themselves practiced all summer," said Wojciechowski, who only trained two miles every other day this summer. "They were good in the beginning and now I'm passing them all. I think I'll do pretty good at states. I think I'll run even better next year."
Annapolis sophomore Will Eden wasn't as fortunate. He slipped at home on wooden floors and bruised the sacrum in his back. Eden, who finished 27th in the region last year, felt he had a shot at winning the title this fall.
"It's really hard to work for something so long and not get it," he said. "I came to practice last year after I didn't [qualify for states] and I remember being so pumped because I was so sure I was going to make it this year. That's when I started training seriously."
Broadneck's boys and girls won 4A East Region titles, and junior Lauren Centrowitz won the girls' race in 18:37. The Severna Park girls defeated Mount Hebron, 36-40, at the 3A East Region meet at Centennial High, and the boys placed fourth.
Saints' Rohrs Gets Some Revenge For three years, St. Mary's junior Mike Rohrs let Severn get the best of him during basketball season. Last year, he took the final shot of the junior varsity game and missed. This fall, he has made up for it on the soccer field. The first time the teams met, Rohrs scored a goal that sent the game into overtime, which the Saints won. On Friday, he scored the team's only goals in a 2-2 tie.
"Maybe it was a little revenge, a little personal," said Rohrs, who is in his first year as a starting midfielder. "I like to step it up in big games, but I don't always hit the net like I'd like to."
Rohrs plays club soccer for the Severna Park U-16 Predators. He was primarily a sweeper but has been moved up to the midfield. After four scoreless games, Rohrs said he entered the Severn game in a drought. Somehow, though, he always manages to sneak one in against the Saints' biggest rivals.
"When I play club I'm not really a goal scorer," he said. "Playing at St. Mary's, I've gotten into a goal-scoring role at times. I went a few games without putting one in the net, but yesterday it felt right."