It is safe to say that years from now, when the teenage girls who now play for Chesapeake's field hockey team look back on their days wearing Cougar blue, they'll remember the late September day in 2005 when they took down mighty Severna Park on the Falcons' own field.
Chesapeake's 4-3 win three weeks ago today was monumental, not only because it was the Cougars' first field hockey win over the Falcons in 27 years of trying, or because no other team had beaten Severna Park on its home field since November 2002, or because no county squad had defeated the Falcons, period, since South River early in 2003.
More important, said several players and Coach Melissa Page, it made them secure in the knowledge that when this group of 21 girls truly plays together as a team, it can accomplish anything.
"This team's strength is that there's not just one star," said Page, who played for Severna Park from 1992 to 1995. "We have a handful of players that could be stars on another team. It's an actual team that we have here."
The competition was so good that longtime referee Sue Diffendorfer, who has officiated in the county for over 20 years, called it "one of the best games I've ever seen. Those [Chesapeake] girls never gave up. They went up and down [the field], and up and down, and up and down. . . ."
Nikki Rice's goal with 1 minute 18 seconds left raised Chesapeake's record to 7-1, and arguably could have been the catalyst for the Cougars to run the table and win out the remainder of the season.
But then a funny thing happened. Chesapeake lost its next two games, coming up empty against South River (by a 1-0 score) and Broadneck (2-0), two other top public school programs in the county. The euphoria spawned by the Severna Park win lasted less than a week.
"Against South River and Broadneck, we lost trust in each other after they scored [first] on us," said senior captain Erin Majerowicz, an all-county midfielder whom her teammates call "Major." It's partly a play on her surname, but also a fitting nickname because she dictates where the ball will go, moving it from the defensive to the offensive zone.
"But now we've got it back," Majerowicz added on the sideline following last week's 4-2 victory over Arundel. "We're here to stay. South River is going to see us again" -- in the region playoffs.
The team could be described as feisty -- and quite physical. In last week's win over Arundel, which raised Chesapeake's record to 9-3 through Monday, sophomore forward Lauren Gottlieb found the ball on her stick near the goal cage with the Arundel goalie down on the ground against the ball. Gottlieb, all of 5 feet tall, repeatedly whacked at the goalie's pads, trying to knock the ball loose. Later, she came flying in from out of nowhere to steal a ball from an Arundel player awaiting a pass.
"When the ball's right in front of the cage, I gotta finish it," said Gottlieb, whose goal against Severna Park gave her a team-high 16 for the season.
"My coach gave me a goal of 25 [goals] before the end of the season, so I'm like, 'I gotta score, I gotta score.' "
Senior defender Allison Hickman, junior defender Kaitlin Boerman and junior defender Liz Tollett make up the core of the Cougars' defense.
"The key to any goal is motivation," said Tollett, who scored on a penalty stroke in the Arundel game. "That's what it took through the Severna Park game. Everyone had heart. We all wanted it. We never gave up."
With two county losses, the Cougars probably will miss playing in the Oct 24 county championship game, which will pit the first- and second-place teams. They won't face class 3A Severna Park in the playoffs (the teams are in different classifications), but as Page said, they'll always have the memory of that win.
"It's never been done at this school. Those seniors . . . you can't take that away from them," said Page. "That day, it didn't sink in to me. I was a wreck. They -- they were off the walls. We're going to take this [confidence], bottle it up, and go with this."