Part of the pregame chant for Severna Park's field hockey team includes one of the most oft-quoted, but rarely demonstrated, lines in sports: "We're number one."
But after yesterday's performance at the Nyborg Tournament at Roland Park Country School in Baltimore, it would be tough to doubt the truth of Severna Park's claim.
The No. 1 Falcons defeated both No. 2 St. Stephen's/St. Agnes and Roland Park -- ranked second in the Baltimore Sun's poll -- and were the only team to finish 2-0 in the round robin tournament that also featured No. 3 Bethesda-Chevy Chase.
After dispatching Roland Park, 3-0, in their first game, the Falcons (5-0) matched up against St. Stephen's, which had already defeated Bethesda-Chevy Chase, 1-0 in overtime. The Saints controlled possession early, but with seven minutes remaining junior forward Ashley Pensyl knocked home a rebound off a shot by Kaylee Pohlmeyer. It proved to be the difference in the Falcons' 1-0 victory.
The goal was Pensyl's first career game winner.
"I'm glad to be able to put out for the team when I needed to," Pensyl said. "I'm just happy we won."
The Falcons' goal visibly deflated the Saints (1-1), who were unable to mount a strong counterattack for the remainder of the contest.
"It's like drawing first blood," Falcons Coach Lil Shelton said. "We took control from them and held on the rest of the game."
Saints Coach Marsha Way agreed.
"That goal really pumped them up," she said. "It made us feel every bit of tiredness and every bit of the humidity. Obviously, Severna Park's adrenaline wasn't letting them feel the same way."
The game's result did not obscure a strong defensive effort by both sides. For St. Stephen's, senior Carter Foote, an All-Independent Schools League player, controlled the game for the Saints with long clears and dribbling exhibitions. The Falcons held St. Stephen's to seven shots and have not allowed a goal all season. Goalkeeper Corinne Manuel (five saves) stood out.
In the Maryland 3A Division, Severna Park's biggest challenge should still be Bethesda-Chevy Chase, last year's state champion. The Barons (1-2-1) tied their second game in the tournament, 1-1 against Roland Park, after giving up a goal with three seconds left in regulation.
Should the Falcons and Barons meet, Pensyl, for one, will be ready.
"We're going all the way this year," she said. "You'll see us at states."
Duplinsky Keeps Rolling
Steven Duplinsky can be forgiven if his mind was wandering during his strikingly easy victory at the Bull Run Invitational in Parkton yesterday.
One week ago, Georgetown Prep's senior All-Met reached the pinnacle of his promising career, beating a mostly professional field to win the junior men's division of the World Triathlon Championships in Gamagori, Japan.
"All week I just kept getting goose bumps when I thought about last week's race," Duplinsky said. "It passed through my mind today, and every time I thought of it I got excited."
Yesterday, at Hereford High School's bucolic but challenging five-kilometer course, the site of the Maryland state championships, Duplinsky won the elite race in a blazing time of 16 minutes 3 seconds. Chantilly senior All-Met Brad Siragusa was a distant second in 16:44.
In the girls' elite race, Bryn Mawr's Christy Johnson won in 19:38, ahead of Wootton sophomore Veronica Salcido (20:01). It was an encouraging finish for Salcido, whose time was seven seconds faster than her third-place time at the 4A meet last year.
"I wanted to prove that I could run with the best," Salcido said. "Last year's times are in the past. I'm thinking about this year."
The team titles went to Northwest's girls, who scored 81 points to edge Morgantown (W.Va.) by six, and Loyola Blakefield's boys, who had 96 points to Broadneck's 112.
Except for an early challenge by Broadneck junior All-Met Matt Centrowitz, who ended up third, Duplinsky ran the 3.1 miles with ease. Duplinsky has trained little for cross-country this fall, and he has not run on a course with hills since last November.
In the longer term, Duplinsky said his goal is to qualify for the Foot Locker National Championships meet in December. But for now, Duplinsky is going to bask in last week's triathlon -- 750 meters swimming, 20 kilometers on a bicycle and 5 kilometers running -- which he completed in 55:08 to win by half a minute.
"That is the ultimate goal in the sport," Duplinsky said of winning a world title. "There's only one other goal you can possibly have, and that's to win a gold medal [in the Olympics]. And if that's even possible it might be a long time from now."