xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement

Team took BBSL by Storm, still on top

They say that whatever goes up must come down.

Well, if that's true, the CC Storm has been defying the laws of gravity for years. It went up and is still up there.

Advertisement

The local under-18 girls soccer squad first reached the top in the Baltimore Beltway Soccer League (BBSL) in fall of 2008, and there it has stayed. The Storm has won the league's under-18 championship eleven consecutive times. To put that achievement another way, it began that run while George Bush was still president.

This past spring was a typical Storm season. The girls, who come from throughout Carroll County and also from Maryland and Pennsylvania, were 8-0 in BBSL play and 13-3-1, overall.

They were also semifinalists in a Stafford, Virginia St. Patrick's Day tournament against teams from Maryland and Virginia. Over the Memorial Day Weekend, they won four of six games and finished fifth of 20 teams competing in a Gettysburg, Pennsylvania tourney where they faced teams from four Middle Atlantic states.

Sometimes, an exceptional team begins young and wins a number of championships as its players advance through soccer's age brackets. Give 'em credit.

But is also true that the cores of such teams often remain intact for a number of years as they move, thus giving them a base for continued excellence.

But the Storm's core continually changes because it is strictly a high school team. A girl stays only two or maybe three years at most. In a good year, Purcell may lose two or three girls to graduation, but he usually loses more. This fall, much of last year's core is gone, and Purcell had to replace seven graduating seniors.

The Storm generally carries around 18 active players. And over the past six or seven years, that entire roster has turned over several times. Coaches must continually work hard recruiting good replacements.

However the team is so good now and has gained such a reputation that good players come to it. The job of recruitment is certainly a lot easier than it was back the early years around 2006 when Purcell originally formed the CC Storm.

Like many soccer dads, his idea was to find quality competition to prepare his daughter and some friends of hers for high school play. He felt the BBSL travel loop provided a good test.

But it was a little too good. His team struggled in those early years.

"We were bad. We didn't have a lot of talent, and I didn't know enough about coaching soccer at that level," he explained.

But by mid-2009 when daughter Kelly graduated Winters Mill, the team was winning. However, Purcell was thinking about graduating too — into something other than soccer coaching.

However players and parents talked him into staying, and the rest of their history makes happy reading for followers the Storm.

Several things have contributed to the team's amazing run of success. First, Purcell recruits carefully. He watches dozens of games a year to scout candidates for his team, and he also relies on word-of-mouth.

Advertisement

He wants talented players of course, but also players who are coachable and who fit into a team concept. The others on the team then take over to make that new player a good fit.

"When [new players] come to the team, they are with kids who already get along. They accept the new girls as part of the group. It feeds on itself," Purcell explained.

Another thing that helps bring in players is the fact that all of them play. Nobody rides the bench.

"There isn't a 'first team' and 'second team.' If somebody doesn't start in game one, she'll start in game two. I may know who my top 11 players are, but nobody else will," Purcell declared.

Partially as a result of this philosophy and smart recruiting, the team wins. And that winning brings a steady influx of the county's top players to the Storm.

To give you an idea, Carroll County teams won three state high school girls soccer championships over the past three years. Ten or 11 girls from those teams have played for the Storm.

That Carroll team has changed its character over the years, depending on its competition. But whether it is notable for defense or offense, it is always notable.

It its early years, the CC Storm was recognized mostly for defense, although having all-county goalkeeper Kristin Prochniak had something to do with that. And, the Manchester Valley graduate has returned to the team, too. Now a middle school teacher, she is Purcell's assistant coach.

In recent years though, the team has taken on a new image-scoring machine. Big scorers like Liberty's Jenny Litz, last fall's leading county scorer and other high scorers like Key's Jordan Fine made the team an explosive scoring threat.

But regardless of accomplishments, Purcell is reluctant to name one Storm team or the another as being his "best." Considering how good they've all been for years, that reluctance is understandable.

However he did recall a tournament game that may have been his "best" in terms of high drama. It came back in March, 2012 in Stafford Virginia.

"We were in the championship game against the number five-ranked team from Virginia. We beat them, 2-1, in double-overtime. It was pouring sleet, snow and rain. Jenny Litz scored the winning goal," he recalled.

"That (game) comes to mind because we played a great team, the weather was absolutely horrible and we won in overtime."

Whether this coming season provides more happy memories in uncertain. In fact, Purcell says the team's outlook is more uncertain than it has been in a long time with the loss of so many top players including most of the best scorers.

Graduated are Litz, Fine and Manchester Valley center-midfielder Dani Rill, all former all-county players. In fact, Rill and Litz were honorable mention all-state.

Purcell says this is the biggest loss of players the team has had since spring, 2009.

The coach speaks of the need for his new, young talents to step up. He indicates that the team's defining characteristic may again be defense this season. Yet as he rattles off the names of player after player that he's counting on, one simply gets the feeling that the team will overcome those losses and excel yet again.

And by the way. Just how did the CC Storm do in that fall of 2009 after losing so many players to graduation in the spring?

With a big laugh, Purcell replied, "we did great."

Reach Mike Nortrup at 410-857-7896 or sports@carrollcountytimes.com.

Ideas wanted

If you know of a Carroll athlete, team, or league that deserves to be featured in the Rec Sports Spotlight, call sports editor Bob Blubaugh at 410-857-7895 or email him at bob.blubaugh@carroll countytimes.com.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement