Yall. I am beaming. I am so proud of the growth of the Baltimore/DC women’s team and what we’ve been able to achieve.
I started playing with the Baltimore-Washington Eagles in 2012 in the shadows of USA Freedom players Eileen Geoghegan, Judith Stein, and Karen Stablein. Since then we have been a consistently small group of strong players, but have had trouble getting past a critical number of players needed to field a full team. Over the past year, with the help of some fresh leadership in DC’s Molly Halberstadt and Baltimore’s Kristin Poti, we have been able to recruit some fresh talent and make huge strides towards being able to field a full team.
Last year at Nationals, we had our highest numbers and wore our own uniforms at the tournament for the first time in my history with the club. I was both proud of the Lady Eagles and heartbroken to be sidelined with an injury. This past weekend at Regionals in Philadelphia, though, I got to be a part of what our team has become. With 14 players from DC and Baltimore, we paired up with a few Boston Demons players as the “Deeagles” (Demon Eagles? Docker Eagles? DemonDockerEagles?), and ultimately took home the cup after taking down Columbus/Philadelphia and New York in two well-matched, hard-fought games.
I cannot tell you how amazing it was to be on this field with this group of women. Did you know we had FIVE first-time players? If you were on the sidelines you would never have guessed. Between the players in their first games, other players who had only played one season before, and a small number of seasoned vets, we were able to link up across the field and make some magic happen.
Our first game we found ourselves lined up against a combined Columbus/Philly team in a game that was low scoring but fairly evenly matched on the field. Strong competition between the teams occurred in the midfield with Kendall Jennings winning in the ruck with Karen Stablein, Molly Halberstadt, and Sam Worrall playing fiercely. Baltimore player Kristin Poti took the first goal for the team. Fearless play from our newest kept the momentum going and we were able to secure our first win of the season.
After watching the NY Magpies defeat the Columbus/Philadelphia team by a much larger margin than we had, Kendall revved us up with a pregame chat and we all agreed to keep the talk up on the field and play as hard as we could. The defense with newbie Kristin Lough at fullback nearly shut out the Magpies, marking any ball that came her way and only letting one behind through the posts.
Two plays that put points on the board were beautiful illustrations of teamwork. Mariam Mehter, who debuted last year at Nationals, scooped up the ball and with quick thinking passed it along and shepherded away a NY player to clear the way for our first goal. For another 8 minutes we play a tight nail-biting game of possession to protect our narrow lead over the Pies. Then, Beth Kirkwood, another new player, finds herself in the forward line with the ball and Kristin telling her she’s all alone and has plenty of time! Beth (admittedly suppressing panic) popped the ball into the goal square to set us up for a second goal that secured the game. With a loud cheering section from Baltimore, DC, and Boston, whose men’s teams were done for the day, we finished out the last moments of the game and took straight to celebrating
I know there are more highlights than this, but with a long day (about 5 hours between our two games…woof!) and my limited view of the field, these are the standout moments for me. The one advantage of being injured at Nationals last year is that I “ran water” but basically got to get the best vantage points during all the games. I’m also not known for having an excellent attention span. Off-field highlights include finding a 4-leaf clover, giving it to Tracy for luck, which he promptly ate, finding a really fluffy moth trying to hide from the rain, oh, and drinking out of the championship cup!! Final moment of teamwork: Filling the trophy with cider for the first round so Poti could get a drink out of it!
I am so thrilled to see how much our team has grown, and I also want to thank the men’s teams for supporting us along the way!