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Banach returning to lead Meade boys soccer program

bburden@capgaznews.com

Fans and opposing coaches are going to have a feeling of deja vu when watching or facing Meade's boys soccer team this fall.

Mike Banach is returning to the sidelines as head coach of the Mustangs.

"As of yesterday (Wednesday), I'd like to officially inform you that Coach Banach will be taking over the Meade boys' soccer program," Meade Athletic Director Kevin Rutledge said. "I am tremendously appreciative of the job and everything Coach Pat Hulede had accomplished this past season, including the first Mustangs county championship in 25 years. His dedication to our Mustangs students, and passion for the game of soccer led to several memorable and historic Mustangs moments."

Hulede went 13-2-2 in his one season, winning the school's first county championship since 1991. His team posted nine shutouts, scored a school-record 55 goals, and surrendered just 11, losing only to Class 4A East Region champion Severna Park during the season. He was informed at the end of the season that, since he is not a teacher at the school, his position had to be made available for 10 days after the season to see if a teacher at the school was interested.

"There is no drama here, no hostility. Mike and I are good friends," Hulede said. "This was a great experience for me, and a good fit, because the Meade administration was very professional and supported me every step of the way."

Banach coached the Mustangs to some lofty heights between 2010-2015. The Mustangs won 10 games each in 2011 and 2013, and really blossomed in 2015, winning a school-record 17 games, including their first region crown since 1991, and advanced to the state finals for the first time since 1978. That team posted 13 shutouts and scored 51 goals.

"We are very excited for the future of the Mustangs soccer program, as he (Banach) builds on the success he had in his previous six seasons here at Meade High School, as well as the boys' success last season under Coach Hulede, " Rutledge said.

Banach is happy to return to the program he built into a state title contender.

"I am excited to return to this program and build on what we have done the past several years," Banach said.

The Mustangs have had a series of special seasons, concluding with 30 wins the past two years, as well as back-to-back players of the year in goalkeeper Danny Castillo (Hood College) and forward Samuel Solomon, who is taking his 21 goals and six assists to UMBC next season.

"I knew it was going to be tough coming in and replacing Mike," Hulede said. "The team lost their coach, but luckily for me, we had a fantastic season with a tight-knit group. I am happy with what we were able to do as a team."

Hulede will consider his options moving forward. He currently coaches the Arundel Soccer Association's Juventus Elite '00s, which is comprised of high school juniors and seniors, many who play for Anne Arundel County schools in the fall.

"As of right now, I have not decided if I want to coach at the high school level or not, but if an opportunity became available, I would certainly consider it," said Hulede, who led Mount St. Joseph to an MIAA A Conference title as a player in 2005. He would consider private school options as well.

The Mustangs lose 13 seniors, including Solomon, Seth Anokye, Riley Baker and goalkeeper Christopher Marx, but return Silas Baker and a talented slew of underclassmen.

"We need to figure out the goalkeeper situation, and replacing Sam will obviously be difficult," Banach said. "But I am excited to get back to figuring those pieces of the puzzle out."

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