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Rec Sports Spotlight: Central Carroll No. 2 field hockey close to No. 1

Central Carroll Team No. 2 went 1-5-1 in the Maryland Youth Field Hockey League's fifth/sixth grade division in 2015.

Yet Laura Maring, the team's new coach, could not believe that as she watched the girls' early practices before this fall season began.

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As she watched them, she recalled thinking," I was floored that they lost last year."

Most of those same girls were back, but Maring saw an entirely different team than the one that struggled last season.

"I could see that they were an amazingly talented group of kids. Their teamwork at such a young age was very impressive," she said.

Their play since then has continued to be impressive-to everybody who has seen them. Central Carroll No. 2 is 6-1 in that same fifth-sixth grade league this year.

Team assistant coach Julie Moreland said part of the problem last season was the fact that hers was a young team. This young team was facing a lot of older opponents and being overwhelmed.

But those young girls now have another year of experience, and it's showing.

When Maring started this year, she instantly began stressing basic skills to bring her players up to speed there. But she held off for a while on placing them in positions.

"When I came in, I waited to know their personalities. Then I moved some forwards to defense and some defenders up to midfield. Those who were more protective I moved to defense. Those who liked to run, I moved to midfield," she explained.

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She also made it clear that the girls should not put undue pressure on themselves.

"I told them it was OK to fail. This is rec, and it doesn't matter. Try different things and grow even if you fail," Maring recalled telling her girls.

Her team opened its season by winning, 9-0. It quickly added two more shutout wins, 6-0 and 4-0. It then won 2-1.

Its one roadblock showed up in the season's fifth game when Freedom stalled Central Carroll 4-0. Maring credited Freedom's ability to air-dribble for much of its edge over her squad.

But then her team recovered to win its next two games via 2-0 and 4-0 shutouts.

Overall, Central Carroll has scored 27 goals this season and given up only five, four of those coming its one losing game. It has shut out five of seven opponents.

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"For a team that won only one game last year, that is pretty impressive," Maring said.

One would think from all those shutouts that the team plays in some sort of defensive shell all the time. Not so says Moreland.

"We play a lot more offense this year than defense. We push the ball. The defense knows that its job is to get the ball out quickly to the offense so it can move up field," she said.

"We dominated the field on offense most of those games."

Maring explained that once she got the players in the right positions, she kept them there. Once they became comfortable in those spots, the girls blended into a solid unit.

"Everyone takes ownership of her position, and then they trust the people next to them," the head coach said.

"Their passing is impeccable. There is nobody on the team that the others won't pass to because there is trust among them. All 15 of them are strong," Maring said.

She notes that a few of girls are versatile athletes and like playing more than one position. So, she uses them in different positions when the need arises. Again, the girls' personalities come into play when she makes that decision.*

"They understand the game so well and want to learn more, so I move them around," Maring said.

This weekend, Central Carroll plays in the Halloween Havoc tournament. The tourney, run by their field hockey league, will be held in Elkridge and Columbia. Maring says that she doesn't know the teams her girls will face. But she thinks that those opponents will be tough competitors.

To prepare her players, she is working extra hard on defense That is because they haven't been pressed that hard that often this year.

She explained that, "they didn't have to play defense that much in the regular season, so we're working on it now."

Moreland also believes her team will face tough competition in the tournament. However Maring says that if the players relax and continue to play as a team, they will be OK.

"We'll go into every game with all the girls playing the same amount of time," she said. "We have no weak links. As long as they play their game and have a good time, they will be fine."

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