Fallston 4, Severna Park 3

The last thing Severna Park senior goalie Liz Tinker wanted was a repeat of last year's home loss to Fallston on penalty strokes in the 3A East Region field hockey final. There was little she could do yesterday, though, as the game-winning stroke flew by, giving Fallston a 4-3 win on penalty strokes and eliminating the Falcons from the state playoffs.

Fallston's Mandi Wisniewski sealed the win with the final penalty stroke.

"To put it bluntly, it stinks," a teary-eyed Tinker said. "It's really nerve-wracking. Even though everyone says it's not just you, it still feels like it is.

"It always stinks when it comes down to strokes because in any team's mind, it's not a fair way to move on. But it had to and it did. Hopefully Fallston wins again. We'll be so happy for them because we are really good friends."

Last year, Fallston (13-1-0) ended Severna Park's 29-game winning streak with a 2-0 victory on penalty strokes and went on to win the state title. This year's loss ended a season in which the Falcons were perfect in Anne Arundel County play, and Severna Park Coach Lil Shelton said her team and Fallston should be playing for the state title.

"When they go on to play states, the people they meet aren't nearly as good as my team is," Shelton said. "It's a shame we have to end here. Had this been a state championship game, we would've been co-champions because they don't break that tie.

"It's really bad these two great teams have to meet in the region. We should be meeting at Goucher [site of the state championship] on the final day."

Still, Severna Park (13-2-2) had its opportunities to score. The Falcons took 13 corners to Fallston's 3 and had a 12-11 shot advantage. Severna Park sophomore Abbi Horn scored the first goal of the game with 5 minutes 50 seconds remaining in the first half.

"We were fired up for this game," Horn said. "We were hoping to get this over with in regulation. It was disappointing to see because we felt like we were dominating most of the game. It's disappointing to see how hard you work and then lose it in strokes. . . . We were waiting a whole year to play this game."

Fallston senior Chelsea Gebhardt tied the game with a penalty stroke less than two minutes into the second half. Gebhardt was one of the strokers last year, but she missed. This year, she redeemed herself and scored the first penalty stroke against Tinker.

"The team and myself were happy it went down to strokes because it was like a re-creation of last year," Gebhardt said. "It was so much fun last year we thought we'd just beat them again, the same way."

Severna Park controlled both seven-on-seven, 10-minute overtime periods but were unable to capitalize.

"We made a lot of little mistakes that we just couldn't . . . we just couldn't handle it," Shelton said. "It's very frustrating my girls are going to be denied going to Goucher because I've talked about it so much. They've got so much spirit and enthusiasm. I hate to see that spirit broken on this field, but no matter who you play, you have to score to win."