Maybe it's the new uniforms. Or the change this season to a more offensive-minded game plan. Whatever the cause, one thing is certain: Severna Park's long-successful field hockey team has begun the 2004 season on a roll.
In Saturday's annual four-team Sally Nyborg Invitational, Severna Park, ranked No. 1 by The Washington Post, took on 12-time state champion Bethesda-Chevy Chase, ranked No. 4, and perennial Baltimore power Roland Park, and steamrolled to two victories by a combined 8-1. Second-ranked St. Stephen's/St. Agnes of Alexandria also took part but did not play Severna Park.
In the opener of the tournament, dedicated to the former Roland Park player who died of complications of lupus in 1998, Severna Park blanked Roland Park, 4-0, behind two goals from Tara Gardner, a junior attack wing in her first season on the varsity, and one goal each from Abbi Horn and Sam Price.
In the afternoon, the Falcons earned a 4-1 victory over B-CC, which had been looking to avenge last year's 3-1 loss in the Maryland 3A state championship. That victory gave Severna Park its 14th state crown, keeping the Falcons just ahead of B-CC, the state's second-most-decorated field hockey squad with its even dozen.
Price, the team's leading scorer this season with seven goals through Monday, tallied two goals in the afternoon victory, including the first of the game off a penalty corner with 17 minutes left in the first half. Gardner, who has five goals this season, put the Falcons up 2-0 later in the half. B-CC scored just before halftime, but second-half goals by Horn and Price -- and nine saves by goalie Dee Crovo -- gave Severna Park the unofficial title of Sally Nyborg champion.
St. Stephen's/St. Agnes and Roland Park went 1-1 in their games, and B-CC was 0-2.
"When we go to this tournament every year, we always know there's going to be great competition," said Falcons senior defender Katie Turner. "That's why we go."
"You know they [B-CC] wanted that game. It was a pretty physical game," said Turner, noting that a B-CC player was given a yellow card for a dangerous play. The player's free hit struck Severna Park's Shea Trogdon in the head.