“Even though we graduated a couple of fantastic players, we didn’t feel that we were going to skip a beat,” Coach Caly Bruton said. “We have a lot of young talent and were lucky to bring in some fresh faces.”
In their second game, the Falcons conceded three goals to Dominion, a finalist last spring in Class 4. Briar Woods still came away with a 7-3 win, but the match taught the Falcons about the challenges of a new season.
“Some of our returning players just felt we were going to pick up right where we left off, and it was a bit humbling in that Dominion game to see ‘No, we’re going to have to connect as a new group,’ ” Bruton said.
That took some time, especially because the team was missing a few players because of the basketball team’s postseason success. In their two games after getting a full roster, the Falcons won by a combined score of 11-0.
On its third day of tryouts early this month, Glenelg hosted a scrimmage against nearby rival Glenelg Country, one of the country’s top squads, in front of packed bleachers on a Friday night.
“I had low expectations for that scrimmage,” Glenelg co-coach Alex Pagnotta said, “based on where we were.”
To Pagnotta’s surprise, Glenelg stuck with the Dragons before losing by a goal. If his team could perform that well on limited preparation, Pagnotta thought, it could compete with any opponent.
That has proved true after the first week of Glenelg’s season. The Gladiators (3-0) have beaten two of Maryland’s top teams: Notre Dame Prep and Severna Park.
Glenelg returned 14 seniors from last year’s squad, which was undefeated and won the Howard County title before losing to Century in the third round of the 2A playoffs. Gladiators players have raised the intensity of their practices, scheduled tougher competition and learned to not overlook their opponents.
Glenelg has claimed five state titles, but this year’s squad is the first since 2016 to not feature a player who has won one.
“Our ‘22 senior class,” Pagnotta said, “they want to leave with a state championship.”
Blair is the reigning Maryland 4A champion, but its players are earning recognition for more than just tennis skills.
Juniors Aileen Qi and Anushka Poddar worked together to develop a proposal for a potential solution to the opioid crisis, an idea that won the Mid-Atlantic regional ExploraVision science contest this month.
“We submitted a proposal for a polyvalent opioid vaccine that aimed to help users in recovery from opioid use disorder by protecting them from relapse and overdose, basically by inducing an immune response against any opioids that they consume,” said Poddar, who plays second doubles on the tennis squad.
As part of the proposal, Qi and Poddar wrote a research paper explaining their idea and developed a website with multimedia presentations designed to explore the technology behind the vaccine.
“We were inspired by these anti-drug vaccines that came out in recent years, especially one against cocaine, and we noticed that all of the ones that were currently in development were monovalent, meaning they only target one drug,” said Qi, who plays second singles. “So we wanted to find a way to make it, like, polyvalent and able to target more than one drug.”
Their regional win puts them up for consideration for a national prize to be announced in May — although Qi is mostly just excited for the chance to meet Bill Nye at the finals in D.C.
After losing numerous players following last season’s 11-3 campaign, Howard Coach Charles Rice was tasked with finding an ace to propel his team toward a county championship.
In the season opener March 21, he found one. Senior pitcher Maddie Coleman struck out 16 without surrendering a walk in a 6-1 win over Long Reach.
“She’s going to be one of the top two pitchers in the county,” Rice said. “We’re expecting to go deep with her just because of her skill level.”
A right-handed pitcher and left-handed batter who has spent three years playing under Rice, Coleman dominated her first outing as a senior. Her early success was encouraging for a team vying for a county championship game berth following a Maryland 4A East region final appearance last season, where the Lions lost to North County, 10-0.
“We expect to be right there with [defending champ] Reservoir this year, fighting for a county championship,” Rice said. “We’re in the same region, so they’re going to have to beat us or we’re going to have to beat them in order to really solidify who’s the county champion.”