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Howard County Times 2023 All-County field hockey: Glenelg senior AJ Eyre closes career in style, named Player of the Year

Glenelg field hockey coach Martie Dyer will never forget the first time she saw senior forward AJ Eyre with a stick in her hand. Eyre attended Dyer’s camp entering third grade, initially set on being a lacrosse player.

However, Dyer soon realized that Eyre was a quick learner with an opportunity to be a special player. By the end of the week, Dyer told Eyre’s mom, “You’ve got a field hockey player here.”

“Just how she picked up the skills so quickly. We were working on aerials over at the fence,” Dyer said. “You’ve got an 8-year-old over at the fence and I taught the girls at the camp how to do it. None of them could do it, but AJ was over there working and working on it. She had that ball lifted way high into the fence. I remember her mom coming and I said, ‘Watch this.’ She just had an innate skill for the game.”

That camp was just the beginning of a bright future. Nine years later, Eyre completed a 29-goal, 20-assist senior season, leading Glenelg to a third straight Class 2A state title. A four-year varsity player, she closes out her high school with 63 goals and 51 assists. Now headed to play at the University of Maryland, Eyre closes out her career as the 2023 Howard County Times field hockey Player of the Year.

Eyre’s high field hockey IQ is a foundational principle of her game. However, she’s always seeking more knowledge. Since arriving at Glenelg four years ago, Eyre’s process has remained the same. Each practice she identifies one thing to work on and makes that a practice goal. The growth process doesn’t stop there.

“I think that you work so much harder when you’re trying to prove to yourself that you’re better,” Eyre said.

The growth process doesn’t stop there. After each game or practice, Eyre takes time for self-evaluation, reflecting on areas where she excelled and others where she can improve. Speaking with teammates and coaches, she utilizes that feedback to help facilitate future growth.

“I think at a really young age, I realized that you don’t play better when you’re really caught up on a mistake that you made or something you did that’s getting in your head,” Eyre said. “You kind of just want to leave it in the past and move forward with it. I feel that personally, I play so much better when I’m motivated to do that skill or shoot the ball in a more powerful way, instead of thinking about, ‘Oh since I missed the last one, I can’t miss again.’ Not putting that pressure on yourself, more of a positive motivating mentality gets to my head.”

That mindset became contagious as the Gladiators looked to maintain the winning tradition they built these last few seasons. It also helped foster great team camaraderie as every player was committed to helping one another improve, which came to fruition in the season’s biggest moments.

Locked in a scoreless deadlock at halftime of the 2A state semifinal against Manchester Valley, Eyre and other veterans preached the importance of getting in the circle. That mentality led to a pair of second-half goals in the win. The state championship against Hereford was a similar story, scoreless at the half. Then, Eyre took over in her final high school game, bobbing and weaving through the Bulls defense, and finishing with a hat trick.

“I’m going to look back on our amazing team environment,” Eyre said. “I’m just so proud of how our team has evolved over the past couple of years with girls graduating and coming in. I’m so happy that this is how I ended my last year. One of the best things I’ll remember is winning a state championship with my sister Brinkley and playing alongside her. That is something I’m going to hold on to forever, also continuing to play with her at Maryland as well.”

That was a full-circle evening for the senior, assisted by Brinkley on her final high school goal. She began her career exactly as it started, hoisting a state title. However, this time was uniquely special, capping off her career under the same coach who inspired her love of the game.

“I’m so glad that she’s playing locally, so I can keep following her career,” Dyer said. “I know what it’s like to play Division I field hockey and how exciting and hard it is. I know that she is much better prepared than I was when I went to school. She is definitely going to crush it.”

All-County first team

Tylar Fleck, Mt. Hebron, sophomore, forward: Fleck was second on the team with 23 goals, including the go-ahead goal in the state semifinal against Severna Park. She also added eight assists.

Ashley Kim, Glenelg, senior, forward: A Columbia University commit, Ashley was a key component of Glenelg’s forward line with nine goals and two assists.

Helen Baldy, Centennial, senior, midfield: A Northeastern commit, Baldy led the Eagles with 30 goals and 11 assists, also showing off strong defensive capabilities with 15 defensive saves.

Maddie Casto, Mt, Hebron, junior, midfield: Casto was a key two-way midfielder for the Vikings effective as a goal scorer and passer with eight goals and eight assists.

Brinkley Eyre, Glenelg, junior, midfield: Eyre, a University of Maryland commit, was second on the team with 17 goals and 15 assists, with seven goals and four assists in the playoffs.

Macie Globerman, Marriotts Ridge, senior, midfield: Globerman scored a team-high seven goals including two-game winners. She also added two assists.

Kate Kim, Glenelg, senior, midfield: Another Columbia commit, she finished with four goals and four assists and was a key part of Glenelg’s transition game.

Samantha Legge, Long Reach, sophomore, midfield: Legge, a Howard transfer helped lead the Lightning to an undefeated regular season and share of the county championship with a team-high 18 goals and 17 assists.

Natalie Machiran, Mt. Hebron, senior, midfield: A University of Michigan commit, Machiran finished with a team-high 30 goals and 11 assists. She was dominant on both ends of the field, winning possession and starting the offense.

Leilani Stewart, Long Reach, freshman, midfielder: Stewart made her impact felt right with dynamic speed and athleticism. She was second on the team in goals (17) and assists (11).

AC Lindner, Mt. Hebron, junior, defense: Lindner scored 14 goals and delivered 14 assists, an integral part of the Vikings first state championship. She was exceptional in the midfield and sparking counterattacks.

Evelyn Rose, River Hill, junior, defender: Rose was the leader on defense for the Hawks with a three goals and two assists, often guarding the opposition’s best attacker.

Sarah Walker, Glenelg, junior, defense: Walker emerged as the leader of Glenelg’s defensive unit, consistently intercepting passes to fuel the offense. She finished nine goals, three assists and eight defensive saves.

Jane Baldy, Centennial, sophomore, goalie: She built on a strong freshman season as the anchor of Centennial’s defense with 376 saves and a 92% save percentage.

Will Fullerton, Marriotts Ridge, senior, goalie: A multi-year starter, Fullerton made 111 saves with an 81% save percentage, finishing the season with six shutouts.

All-County second team

Gabby Bergstrom, River Hill, junior, midfield

Molly Butterfield, Reservoir, senior, midfield/defense

Rachel Harper, Marriotts Ridge, senior, defense

Saeeda Jackson, Wilde Lake, senior, defense

Annabelle Kazanas, Mt. Hebron, junior, forward

Reagan Law, Atholton, sophomore, forward

Enya Manzanera, Howard, senior, defense

Riley Oakes, Glenelg, senior, defense

Izzy Perry, Marriotts Ridge, junior, midfield

Chiara Pompei, Long Reach, senior, forward

Ava Rudy, Centennial, sophomore, midfield

Olivia Schwendeman, senior, forward

Trinity Shackelford, Glenelg, sophomore, goalie

Theresa Stiller, Glenelg, senior, forward

Taylor Sung, Reservoir, defense, senior

Final Season Standings

1. Glenelg (13-2, 8-0, Co-Howard County Champion, 2A state champion); 2. Long Reach (11-1, 7-0 Co-County Champion, 3A South Region I finalist); 3. Mt. Hebron (16-1, 8-1, 3A state champion); 4. Marriotts Ridge (6-7-6-2); 5. River Hill (6-7, 5-4); 6. Centennial (7-7, 4-5, 2A State Quarterfinalist); 7. Reservoir (6-9, 4-7, 3A State Quarterfinalist); 8. Atholton (5-7, 3-5, 3A South Region II Finalist); 9. Howard (3-9, 3-6); 10. Wilde Lake (4-9, 2-6); 11. Oakland Mills (1-10, 1-6); 12. Hammond (0-13, 0-8); IAAM C Conference Glenelg Country (3-4-1, 2-3-1).