Their under-19 soccer team is called the Columbia Crusaders, but that doesn't stop coaches Roy and Anita Andersch from putting outsiders on the roster.
Five Anne Arundel players helped the Howard County-based squad win its fifth straight State Cup title last Sunday with a2-1 victory over the Bethesda Peppers -- last year's under-17 state champions.
Amanda Simmons and Kelly Dryden, who just completed their junior seasons at Meade, have played on each of the Crusaders' five State Cup teams, and Chesapeake's Allison Nethen joined the squad three yearsago.
The Andersches, a husband-and-wife team, added two more county players this year, recent graduates Betsy Anderson of Severna Parkand Kim Myers of Glen Burnie.
As were the other members of the Crusaders' squad, all five countians were members of the Maryland Stateteam in their respective age groups of the Olympic Developmental Program (ODP). And when the nationwide selection process begins June 29 all five will be in the running.
"They each bring a different piece to the pie," said Roy Andersch, whose club includes four national team players.
"Amanda was a big scorer in her county, but she playsdefense for us. She's just a great athlete. We were looking for a midfielder and Betsy had what we were looking for," he said. "Kelly Dryden is a blue-collar player who doesn't get much notoriety, but she's(college) Division I material. And Allison plays in the field for usnow, but she was the back-up goalie on last year's State Cup team when our starting goalkeeper got hurt."
And then there is Myers, whose union with the Crusaders was a perfect match. She arrived when theCrusaders were looking for a goalkeeper to replace injured starter Krista Fulton, an All-County player at Howard High, who has returned and now splits time with Myers in the goal.
The Crusaders, arguablythe state's best bet for a national title, will continue their questin next month's U.S. Youth Soccer Association Regional Tournament inAmherst, Mass.
The Crusaders were regional runners-up the last two seasons, losing last year to Willingboro, N.J., the eventual national champion.
"Willingboro is staying down in the under-17 level this year, so we won't get to play them," said Anita Andersch. "All of our games with them are close, but we never could seem to get past them in the regionals."
Simmons, who joined the Crusaders' under-12 team a few months before Dryden, calls this year's Crusaders the mosttalented team of them all.
"When I started, I was the only non-Columbian on the team. But since then, we've gotten a lot better," saidSimmons, who led the county in scoring with 29 goals last fall. "This year, we've picked up a couple of seniors and that alone makes us amuch better team. We've finished as regional runners-up the past twoyears, and Mr. Andersch expects to do very well again this year."
Myers goes a step further.
"When we formed the team this year, wesaid we wanted to bring back a national title," said Myers, one of five high school graduates on the young squad. "Our region is always tough because we play the tough teams from Virginia. But Maryland has always been second-rate compared to the Virginia teams and we'd like to change that."
Myers, a Glen Burnie graduate and a first-team All-County goalkeeper, has received a full scholarship to Rutgers University to play soccer.
She was in goal for the Harford United squadthe past two seasons, anchoring the team to a pair of State Cup titles and a regional runner-up finish.
When several members of the Harford United team left for other squads, Myers and Terri Rich -- an All-Metro player and a graduate of Dulaney High in Baltimore County --decided to play for the Crusaders.
"Two years ago, Harford Unitedwas at its peak. But the team wasn't well known so that hurt (the team's enrollment)," said Myers. "This team (Crusaders) is very focusedand devoted to doing well."
In addition, Myers added, there is the camaraderie of playing side-by-side with former rivals such as Simmons.
"In high school, it was 'Kim vs. Amanda.' But we've know eachother since we were about 12 or 13, so it's nice to be playing together," Myers said. "Plus, with Betsy and the other girls on the team, you can car pool. That adds to the friendship."
Anderson is headedfor North Carolina State University on a partial athletic scholarship. She was the county's best midfielder and led her Severna Park squad with 15 goals and 10 assists.
The Crusaders is Anderson's fifth State Cup team: the MSI Express team won four times and the Potomac Wonders squad won last year.
But after several members of the Wonders' squad graduated, Anderson chose the Crusaders.
"I've been friends with Kim and Amanda for many years and it's nice to be playing with them again," said Anderson. "But the reason this team plays so well is that not only is it awesome talent-wise, but because we're all friends."