It's unusual to talk about a team's "winning tradition" when its players are only 8 or 9 years old. But that's what the Central Carroll Strikers have done. Last Saturday, its kids kept on winning.
The Strikers finished their Baltimore Beltway Soccer League season by whipping the Old Line Football Club Premier team 8-2. The win gave them a 7-0 record and the championship of BBSL's under-10 B division for players born in 2007.
That is the fourth league championship Central Carroll has won in the three years the team has been in operation.
The Strikers, which are part of the Central Carroll Soccer Club, were formed in 2014.
Striker head coach Todd Kwenzer and his assistant coaches Chad Norfolk and Chris North then set about drilling their youngsters. All of the boys had at least some soccer experience, so their job wasn't overly hard.
"We spend part of every practice on fundamentals like ball skills and passing . We spend about 30 minutes each practice on those things and a lot of little technical stuff as well. We do that all the time, because you have to develop them at a very young age," Kwenzer explained.
He says that working with boys that young can be a challenge because they quickly lose focus. They need to work on skills, and that means a lot of drills and repetition. So, the coaches continually changed the drills to keep their players interested.
"If you keep them moving, they will absorb what you teach. But you have to keep changing the drills so they don't get bored," Kwenzer explained.
Their training had an immediate effect after they entered the Central Maryland Soccer Association in the fall of that year.
Their first season saw the Strikers win their division. Then they won CMSA divisional championships in both the spring and fall of 2015.
Kwenzer felt that the BBSL would offer his players more of a challenge. He said wasn't sure how his team would do this season until he got into it. However, he was certain of one thing.
"I have been lucky to have a great group of boys who love the game. They work hard in each match, and they always hustle," Kwenzer said.
They certainly hustled in the first four games of their BBSL season, particularly on defense. Central Carroll opened with a 6-0 win over Bayshore White and would go on to record three shutouts in in their first four games.
One of only two close games the team played his season came in the second match of the year. This one went back and forth before the Strikers pulled in out, 5-3 over ASA DMV Tempo.
Two weeks later, Central Carroll had its closest game when it played Perry Hall/White Marsh. Central Carroll though, hung on to win 1-0.