Wootton Field Hockey Hoping for State Championship Glory on Saturday
Wootton's field hockey team will take the field at Washington College this Saturday against Anne Arundel County powerhouse Severna Park hoping to capture the MPSSAA 4A state championship. While it would be the first state title for this set of players, it would not be the first for coaches Kearney Blandamer and Lesley Stroot. Blandamer and Stroot, who are sisters, coached Springbrook to a state championship in 2003.
"Since my sister and I won in 2003 with Springbrook, states has always been the expectation for any team we've coached. Once you are fortunate enough to experience winning a title, it changes you forever," said Blandamer. "This group of girls has demonstrated since their freshman year a desire to challenge themselves and be their best. That is the mindset that championship teams are made of."
Wootton, who is 16-2 this year, has been building up a strong field hockey program that starts at the JV level. Stroot, who primarily coaches the JV, has amassed a record of 47-1-1 since taking over that team five years ago. Many of the team's players this year played on the JV in the past and have been able to carry over their success to the varsity.
The team has been led to the state championship by their seniors. Blandamer highlights the team's senior leadership as their greatest strength, believing that the group's strength, integrity and courage has left the team in good hands when they play games.
The trust between the coaching staff and the players has reached the point that the coaching staff doesn't have to call out a play on corner offense or decide who is going to take a penalty stroke when Wootton is awarded one- the players make the decision.
"We know they are primed for the highest level of competition because they are taking full responsibility for their own destiny. And they want that responsibility," said Blandamer. "That is the ultimate goal for any team, and the girls have reached that point."
Blandamer highlights Rachel Maizel, Marisa Morakis and Amanda Jordan as Wootton's standouts this season. Maizel, a senior, is a centerback and is a combination of one of the best pure athletes Blandamer has ever coached, as well as a tremendously competitive individual. She is involved on both offensive and defensive corners, and is equal parts finesse and power. Maizel leads by example and makes her teammates better by being a positive teammate, and using her passing range to get everyone involved in the game.
Much like Maizel, Morakis is a senior who is a great athlete and helps get the best out of her teammates. Morakis is a midfielder who is in excellent shape, always seeming to be able to find an extra gear to push both herself and her teammates. On offense, her powerful shot on offensive corners is one of the team's strongest weapons, while on defense she does a good job of reading the game and breaking up the opposition's attacks.
Jordan is the team's goalkeeper. A sophomore, Jordan is a calming influence in the back whose presence brings confidence to the defenders in front of her despite being a younger player. She is a very positive teammate, who's able to call out marking assignments to teammates without yelling at them or criticizing their decision making.
The trio have been in excellent form during the playoffs, something Wootton is hoping will carry over to Saturday's big game. In Severna Park, Wootton faces one of the top field hockey programs in Maryland. Severna Park has won the past two 4A state championships, and a total of 22 in their program's history.
"Ultimately I have found that success in the playoffs comes down to heart, really hard work, belief in yourselves, and luck," said Blandamer. "We must bring everything to Saturday's competition."
Blandamer is hoping that this team will get to enjoy the feeling of winning a state championship, just like she has in the past. Behind getting married and the birth of her two children, Bladamer rates winning the state title with Springbrook as the best moment of her life.
"To win the title this year, with these girls and their families, would be everything," said Blandamer. "I want these kids to experience the life-changing joy that capturing a state title brings. It's truly magical."
|November 12th, 2015||By: Wick Eisenberg|