If the weather holds, Catonsville will play in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s Class 4A semifinal game for the first time in 15 years tonight.
“I’m so excited for my team, so eager to get on the field and play, it feels like the night before Christmas,” Catonsville coach Lindsey Springer said. “We’re as prepared as we’re ever going to be.”
The Comets, 12-3 and the No. 1 seed in the Class 4A North region, face No. 2-seeded Walter Johnson (13-1), from the 4A West region at Franklin High School at 7 p.m. The winner advances to the 6:30 p.m. state championship game Saturday at Washington College. They will play the winner of the No. 2 South River/Blake semifinal, which will be played at 5 p.m. tonight, also at Franklin.
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Catonsville has been working to get to this point since Springer arrived at the school five years ago. She points to the growth of the Catonsville Recreation and Parks field hockey program that keeps her players playing and improving in the offseason, as well as the individual talent exhibited by her players, for the team’s rise.
“Many of my players have been playing together since they were freshmen,” Springer said. “And they’ve been working really hard. They’re very united and have a strong bond. And their determination has been a huge factor.
Hereford coach Tammy Mundie said she was impressed by Catonsville in an early season game.
“We had a really good game,” said Mundie, whose team is undefeated and plays in the 3A semifinal Wednesday at Broadneck. “Athlete for athlete they’re a very strong, talented team.”
Leading the forward attack is junior Brooke Stevens, who scored the team’s two goals in the Comets’ 2-1 region final victory over Dulaney, sophomores Emma Clark and Catherine Sweeney and senior Grace Campbell.
A senior-dominated midfield of Maddie Hunt, Kendall Law and Rachel Saks works the transition from defense to offense and back again. And in the back, captain Kelly Reyman directs the defense and senior Maggie Whelley takes charge when she senses it’s time.
“Kelly and Maggie feed off each other,” Springer said. “They are both calm and cool in the back, which is exactly what you need.”
Both help sophomore goalie Venessa Tracy build confidence and protect the goal.
“Venessa is still being fine tuned,” Springer said. “But she had a phenomenal defensive game against Dulaney and is really the reason we won.”
Now, they’re trying to go where only one Catonsville team, the 1988 finalists, has ever been.
“This team is not only physically prepared, its mentally and emotionally ready,” Springer said. “At this point, you can’t do anything more physically, it’s all about the mental and emotional state. We’re going in to this game ready to play.”