Phyllis Hemmes sets the same goal for every Bel Air team she coaches: improve last season's record by a single victory.
If the Bobcats' field hockey team boosts its record from last year's 12-1-2, it just might win a state title.
But the Bobcats say Hemmes does not have to put that kind of pressure on her team. They put it on themselves.
After reaching the state Class 3A semifinals last year, the Bobcats know what they want this time around.
"We want to win every game," said third-year starter Marjie Wasson.
So far, the Bobcats have maintained that perfect record. After a 2-0 victory over Joppatowne Wednesday, Bel Air's record stood at 8-0. Its league record was 4-0.
Against Joppatowne, the Bobcats looked solid at every position. They dominated the field, holding the Mariners (4-4) to just one shot on goal.
Hemmes has used a mix of veterans and talented newcomers up from an undefeated junior varsity to achieve just the right blend. By switching a few players to new positions, Hemmes managed to bolster the midfield and defense.
Shannon Ramsey and Michelle Paradise join Kristin Wagner as halfbacks.
Ledys Valle stepped up to the midfield along with Amy Sullivan, a converted jayvee back.
"Now, I have kids on defense who think offensively," said Hemmes.
"They know how to distribute the ball to the wings. They have a quicker stick because they're used to going for the ball to shoot for goal."
That ability to move the ball quickly out of the defensive end of the field showed against Joppatowne.
While many high school teams have a tendency to bunch up through the middle of the field, the Bobcats spread out as far as they could.
"When I go to watch upper-level hockey, they play it to the wings to open up the field," said Hemmes.
"I told my inners, they shouldn't even think about touching the ball until it gets inside the 25-yard line or better yet inside the circle."
The Bobcats followed that advice to score both goals against Joppatowne.
Both were set up by the right wing carrying the ball downfield and passing to the middle.
Sheila Rohe sparked the first goal just four minutes into the game.
Kristine Svec scored off a pass from Michelle Thomas.
Rohe's backup, Teri Fox, set up the second goal with a perfect crossing pass. Thomas scored the goal on an assist from Wasson.
Joppatowne kept three or four defenders deep in their own territory, but they couldn't cut off the fastbreaks.
"They just had fantastic control of the ball," said Joppatowne's Carey Bass. "Marjie (Wasson) just blew by. Everybody else was fast too, and we couldn't stay with them."