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Lansdowne is one of five schools in Baltimore County ¿ the others are Woodlawn, Parkville, Dundalk and Owings Mills ¿ that offer the ESOL program, English for Speakers of Other Languages, so Dunn's roster is dotted with foreign-born athletes who are not foreign to soccer.

When George Dunn took over as head coach of the Lansdowne High School boys soccer team before the 2013 season, he had no previous experience coaching soccer.

And yet, in three years, his team has won 30 games.

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It won four in 2012, the year before Dunn, 40, a Catonsville resident, arrived.

This year, the 10-1-1 Vikings came within a 3-2 loss to Parkville on Oct. 20 of going undefeated during the regular season.

So what has made the difference, besides the coach?

Lansdowne is one of five schools in Baltimore County — the others are Woodlawn, Parkville, Dundalk and Owings Mills — that offer the ESOL program, English for Speakers of Other Languages, so Dunn's roster is dotted with foreign-born athletes who are not foreign to soccer.

Lansdowne team co-captain Jaime Quansah scores on a penalty kick early in the first half of the Vikings' shutout win over visiting Overlea on Oct. 14.
Lansdowne team co-captain Jaime Quansah scores on a penalty kick early in the first half of the Vikings' shutout win over visiting Overlea on Oct. 14. (Photo by Nicole Munchel / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Lansdowne's roster has six players each from Myanmar (Burma), five from Africa, two from El Salvador, one from Germany and five from the United States.

Junior Ling Har, from Myanmar, and senior Bryan Rios-Buruca, from El Salvador, are captains, along with locals Kyndell Overton and Jamie Quansah.

"Ling is good enough with the English language that he can tell the other Burmese kids things," Dunn said. "He's a great player, but he's also bilingual and that's a big reason why he is a captain."

He has a great chemistry with Rios-Buruca, whom he assisted twice when Rios-Buruca scored three times in the Vikings' 7-0 victory over Overlea in the team's regular-season home finale.

"He knows what to do, and he just gets the ball to me and that's it," Rios-Buruca said.

The Lansdowne boys soccer team crept within two games of an unbeaten regular season after they defeated Overlea 7-0 in the Vikings last regular season home game.

"Even though they are from different regions around the world, spending all this time together, they are really starting to trust each other and play together as a unit," Dunn said. "When you put 10 players on the field that can play anywhere and we get our formation right and find the open spots on the field, they can be very dangerous."

That wasn't the case when Dunn took over in 2013 and saw a collection of skilled players who needed to grow together.

"They come in and they are 15, 16 and they've played soccer their whole life and you don't have to worry about teaching them fundamentals because they all have good skills," he said. "We just have to put them together as a unit."

Dunn also made another key tactical move this season by bringing in assistant coach Angser Otto.

Otto was the first Division III All-American selection for Stevenson University when he earned second-team honors as a player in 2010.

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He transferred to Division I Iona University in 2011 and was the leading scorer his final two years as a collegian.

"When a guy comes in with those kind of credentials, I'm not going to step on his toes," Dunn said. "He's taught me a lot about tactics and formation."

"He's had a huge impact," said junior goalie Colby Chaney, who splits time with Nick Tant. "He's helped us practice and become better soccer players."

Although Lansdowne plays in Baltimore County's Division II with Carver, Chesapeake, Milford Mill, New Town, Overlea, Parkville, Randallstown, Western Tech and Woodlawn, they have defeated Division I schools Pikesville and Kenwood and tied Owings Mills.

The top team in Division I North/West, Perry Hall, and the best team in Division I East/South, Catonsville, played in the Baltimore County championship game on Oct. 27 at Franklin High School.

Teams in Division II are not eligible to play in the Baltimore County title game, but that hasn't stopped the Vikings' faithful from getting wrapped up in the soccer team's success, which included nine wins in a row after the tie with Owings Mills.

"The team worked so hard, but it [the loss to Parkville] was such a big letdown," Dunn said. "There are not too many teams, I don't care what division you are in, that get a chance to go undefeated."

Now, Dunn hopes to use the one defeat as motivation for the Class 3A North Region playoffs that begin on Friday, Oct. 30.

Lansdowne is top seed in Section I in the Class 3A North Region. After a first-round bye, they will play the winner of Poly and Milford Mill on Nov. 2.

The only loss wasn't the Vikings' first taste of adversity. They lost starting midfielder Lal Ruata when his family moved to Syracuse, N.Y., in the middle of the season, with sophomore Muang Hnai taking his spot.

In the loss to Parkville, the Vikings were missing center back Rios-Buruca.

Rios-Buruca, Overton, Daniel Colin, Sam Hmung and Chris Thuang key a defense that has helped goalies Tant and Chaney record five shutouts.

Two boys soccer teams that met in the Class 2A North Region quarterfinals last year, resumed their rivalry at Lansdowne High on Tuesday evening and for the second straight time the Vikings (1-0) pulled away for a convincing victory over Western Tech (1-2).

"They are unbelievable," Dunn said of the defense that also includes reserves Elijah Andrews and Ahmed Ndiaye.

"They have been playing great, fantastic, lights out all year," Tant said.

The Vikings are also capable of scoring at a rapid rate and they outscored opponents 51-10 this season.

Leading scorers are Obet Makano (11 goals), Benny Brankoff (8 goals, 4 assists), AJ McCho-Nji (7 and 4), Ling (4 and 7), Muang (4 goals), Quansah (2 and 4), Rios (6 goals), Muang (4 goals).

Tant didn't see the program advancing the way it has when he started in 2012.

"It's kind of hard to describe," Tant said. "I've never been a part of a team that won so much. It's a big improvement over when he [Dunn] took over."

Dunn, a former conference wrestling champion at Division III Thiel College, whose strength when he played soccer was taking out attacking forwards with slide tackles, acknowledges he appreciates the sport more from a coaching aspect.

"It's given me a love for the game," he said. "Being exposed to all these cultures has really been a great experience for me."

Winning 30 games in three years hasn't hurt.

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