Oakdale’s Sam Mogar is no longer lighting up the scoreboard like she did last se ason, when she was Frederick County’s top scorer in field hockey.
She has a good excuse, though. She switched from attack to defense, filling a huge need for a Bears team that lost co-Defensive Player of the Year Sabrina Wooster to graduation.
And it’s not like Oakdale has lacked offensive punch, not with a slew of scoring threats like Emma McGaha and Taylor Hardesty — among others — ready to strike at a moment’s notice.
So, there has been nothing resembling a drop-off for the Bears this season. In fact, they’ve been flourishing.
Oakdale clinched a spot in the Central Maryland Conference championship match for the first time in program history on Tuesday by beating visiting Middletown 4-1.
In recent years, the Bears have ranked among Frederick County’s top programs. But somehow, a setback in a crucial game always cost them a chance to play in the CMC title game between the Gambrill and Spires Division champs.
But when the Bears played just such a crucial game on Tuesday, their final division game between the last remaining teams with unbeaten records in the Gambrill, they prevailed, getting two goals from Hardesty and one each from McGaha and Kiersten Hoffmann.
“It’s always been tight,” McGaha said. “And this year, it’s finally gone our way.”
Several factors have helped the Bears (7-2) pile up wins. Their only losses came to Urbana (the Spires champ they’ll face in the CMC championship), 1-0, and Mount de Sales, 4-0.
For starters, Mogar helped bolster the defense, where she played as a freshman before being switched to attack.
“We lost Sabrina Wooster; she was our key defensive go-to, and Sam fit that role perfectly,” Bears coach Allison Dudley said. “She’s got the speed, and she’s a dual threat because she can take the ball end line to end line. She can do corners, still, so it’s a good spot for her.”
Mogar, who had 18 goals and 13 assists en route to earning All-County first-team honors last season, gladly made the move.
“The team this year really needed a defender,” she said. “So I decided to step up and play that position for my team this year.”
And Mogar’s ability to whack long, hard drives also often helps spur scoring opportunities for the Bears, who look to apply constant pressure on the goal by taking quick hits and creating and capitalizing on corners.
Oakdale’s offense returned another first-teamer in McGaha, who also ranked high on the scoring leaders list last season. While still a scoring threat, she was quick to point out how the Bears don’t rely on just a player or two for goals.
“It’s all about communication and getting back and helping each other,” she said. “It’s not a one-person show, it’s a whole team.”
“No one’s really been selfish with the ball when they’re in the circle,” Hardesty said. “It’s us getting it to the goal, getting it to post and just all working together.”
That mindset might help explain why Hardesty, when asked, wasn’t sure how many goals she had scored this season. She scored the first two goals of Tuesday’s game, and the Bears jumped out to a 4-0 lead when Hoffmann scored with 26:40 left in the second half.
“They’re hard hitters, and they responded well to their hard hits,” Knights coach Ginni Dumars said of Oakdale. “And we didn’t mark defensively in the circle.”
Allison Grunwell and McGaha had assists for the Bears, and goalie Lilly Murphy had three saves.
Gabby Coleman scored for the Knights (7-2), and goalie Kaila Tom had seven saves. Dumars praised her team’s ability to adapt to change.
“We’ve moved them around in different spots today for various reasons, and they responded well to that. They didn’t let that get in their heads,” she said. “They just moved sides for me or moved up or back for me. They’re a close-knit team. They’re doing well.”