Howard's 1992 field hockey team played two different seasons.
Early on, it dropped four games by huge margins. But despite a 2-9-1 final record, the Lions were no pushovers later on.
In an amazing turnaround, the Lions closed their county schedule with five impressive performances. They didn't win any of them, but they tied Oakland Mills, lost to Hammond and Atholton by one goal and to Mount Hebron and Centennial in overtime.
Three of their season's nine losses came in overtime -- two of them in double-overtime.
"By the end of the season, we had finally gotten our act together," said second-year coach Terry Flaig.
"Because of the way we finished the season, the girls are very positive. They think they're going to be competitive. If we can get our heads on straight in the beginning, we'll have a good season, because that's where we went wrong last year."
The Lions have some questions on the forward line, but they appear pretty solid elsewhere with returning starters sprinkled throughout.
Defensively, two starters return -- seniors Tammy Daniels and Melissa Stewart. Daniels will go at right halfback. Stewart plays sweeper.
Left halfback Jenny Fox is another returnee although she did not start last season. Caroline Curtis moves up from JV to take over at center back.
In goal, junior Kristina Kramer shows tremendous promise after moving up from a fine season on JV.
Returning senior Nicole Parker will be the key to the Lions' transition game. At right link, she can direct the game and change fields as well as anyone. Sophomore Erica Hensley, up from JV, should complement Parker at left link.
On the line, senior Emily Moore, a starter last year at left inner, should do most of the scoring. She'll be joined by junior Laura Foerster, up from JV, at right inner.
Returning seniors Amy Oaks and Gwen Harrison probably will earn their first starting nods at the wing.
Flaig said her forwards are hungry to score, and their performance could be the key to the season. But, overall she said the Lions look stronger than last year.
"This year's team seems to have more ball sense, more field sense and a better knowledge of the game," said Flaig. "They also have a great attitude."
The Lions have some additional motivation because this will be Flaig's final season at the helm.
When the season ends, she'll move to Cleveland where her husband recently was transferred.
Posting a winning record for Flaig, who worked some magic as a rookie coach, could give the Lions that extra incentive to start out this season just as competitively as they finished the last.