Last Friday, Centreville Coach Starr Karl left the field at South Lakes High about 6 p.m., just a few moments after guiding her field hockey team to a 2-1 victory. She went straight to Fairfax Hospital, where she gave birth to her fourth child, Mackenzie Grace, a 6-pound 15 1/2-ounce girl.

"It was real comical," Karl said, who said she has been teased about "conveniently planning" the birth around her team's schedule.

"All I can say is it's the '90s," she said. "Everything seems to be planned in the '90s."

Karl, last season's All-Met Coach of the Year, guided Centreville throughout her pregnancy, and the seventh-ranked Wildcats have begun the season 5-0-1. She said she never considered taking time off.

"From the beginning of the season I knew I was due in the middle of the season," Karl said. "I have great assistants. But I just love being out there."

In the ISL

Ninth-ranked Holton-Arms put to rest some doubts about the strength of its team in the Independent School League competition last week after tying fifth-ranked Georgetown Visitation, 2-2, and outscoring three other opponents 10-0. But the Panthers will have a stiff test today, when they host eighth-ranked Whitman, and Friday, when they travel to Severn, one of the stronger private school teams in Maryland.

"After that, we'll know [how good we are]," Hutcherson said.

Her team will have to rely on some depth. Starting midfielder Amelia Moorstein will miss the remainder of the regular season with a stress fracture in her leg. Hutcherson said Moorstein, who is a sophomore, may be able to come back for the ISL tournament, which will take place in mid-November.

Still, Hutcherson believes her team is strong. The scoring has been evenly balanced, and she credits senior forward Margaret Pulvermann as having been "instrumental" in leading the attack and hitting corners. . . .

Georgetown Visitation, meanwhile, has a lot in common with Holton-Arms, its fellow ISL team. Visitation also is 3-0-1, and has outscored its opponents 10-0. In Tuesday's 3-0 victory over Sidwell Friends, senior forward Shelby Samperton was the lone scorer for Visitation. Senior link Beth Gagnon has two goals and an assist this season. . . .

National Cathedral, ranked eighth last week, has had a rough start this season, falling to then-No. 6 Walter Johnson, 3-1, and then to Whitman, 2-0, in back-to-back games Saturday. National Cathedral defeated Episcopal Friday and shut out Holy Cross, 2-0, Monday.

"These are the types of games we need to play in order to do better in the postseason," National Cathedral Coach Jane DeGrenier said about the two losses. "I think we were a little down after the games, but it wasn't like losing to someone in our conference." . . .

St. Stephen's/St. Agnes has elected to play for the first time in the Virginia Independent School League tournament this fall. So in preparation, the Saints will play games against two of the Richmond area schools they could face in the event.

The Saints will play the Collegiate School Friday afternoon, then stay overnight in the state capital and face St. Catherine's on Saturday.

"I felt we needed to play a couple games like this to be ready to play in the VISL," Saints Coach Marsha Way said.

In Howard County

Long Reach High's 3-1-1 start has given Coach Kelly Snyder more confidence that this might be the team's breakthrough season. Her team made the region final last fall in just its third year, but lost to Howard County opponent Mount Hebron. The Lightning began the season by defeating defending Maryland 3A state champion Fallston, 1-0. Long Reach also has beaten and tied River Hill and topped C.M. Wright.

"We're just inches away," Snyder said. "The mental breakdown is our problem. It's not that we don't have the talent. It's not that we don't have the skill. We've just got to get 11 girls in sync."

Goalie Jaye Lance has had key performances, making 52 saves in five games, including 15 in the Fallston shutout and 12 in the victory over C.M. Wright. The senior has allowed just five goals, three of which came on defensive miscues.

Jessica Burkhardt leads Long Reach with two goals and one assist while her twin sister, Bridgette, has one goal. Theresa Heston has been solid on defense, combining with Lance to make Long Reach tough to score on. . . .

Centennial has won three straight games after dropping the first two. The Howard County team edged both Sidwell Friends and Bel Air, 2-1, before routing Atholton, 8-0.

Nicole Simon scored three goals for the Eagles against Atholton, and Tara Moleksy added two more. Simon and Molesky lead the team with five points apiece.

Coach Gail Purcell got her 200th win at Centennial last week against Friends, and is pleased with the way her squad has rebounded from a slow start.

"They felt they were in the shadow of last year's group that went 14-3," Purcell said. "I think they felt a lot of pressure, and there were so many of them that hadn't played together."