Glenelg Country School field hockey coaches Barbara Wolf and Patti Ordonez know winning is a state of mind. Now, if they could just convince their players.
Early in the season, Wolf and Ordonez thought they had enough talent to boost last year's one-win season and move up in the Association of Independent Schools B Division.
Instead, after Wednesday's heart-breaking 3-2 loss to Lutheran, Glenelg's record stood at 1-5-2 overall and 0-4-1 in the B Division.
That does not mean the talent is not there, say the coaches. What's missing among the players is a belief they can win.
"We don't have a tradition of winning at this school," said Wolf, who played hockey at Glenelg High School and Western Maryland College. "I don't think they do it on purpose, but they don't expect to win. No matter how much we tell them they can win and they should be winning, they don't have that winning attitude."
A prime example came in the loss to Lutheran. Glenelg dominated early taking a 2-0 lead on goals by left wing Carrie Everett, a first-year player. But once Glenelg gave up a goal on FTC defensive miscue, the momentum shifted for good to the Saints.
"Mainly, we just don't believe we can do it," said junior co-captain Robin Zimmerly. "We definitely have the skill and the teamwork, but we're just not sure we can beat those other teams."
A look beyond the win-loss record shows just how close Glenelg is to breaking through. After the Lutheran game, it had been outscored only 12-8. Four of its five losses have came by one goal.
Those numbers show just how far Glenelg has come in its three years in the AIS. Wolf and Ordonez, both teachers at the school, are just in their second year at the helm.
"We see an improvement," said Ordonez, who played at Roland Park and Johns Hopkins. "The first year, we had girls who were really outstanding and carried the team. As time goes on, we've seen a lot of good players emerge, but sometimes the individuals want to dominate and we're still trying to get them to work more as a team."
One luxury Glenelg has is its youth. The coaches expect most of the roster to return next season.
Only sweeper Stacey Lay, link Rowena Mukhi and forward Carrie Barbash are seniors.
Zimmerly and link Allison Hoke are juniors.
The bulk of the starting lineup comes from the sophomore class with link Megan Duzor, backs Jessica Brendel and Joyelle McCullough, forwards Everett, Ashley Baugh and Laura Mulitz and keeper Leena Mittal.
Offsetting the benefit of youth, however, is the small turnout -- not surprising considering the school enrolls less than 100 students. The junior class has only five girls.
As a small private school, Glenelg Country gets snared in a bit of an athletic Catch-22. Girls pick up the game early, usually in the fourth grade, but they don't all stick around.
"The best athletes tend to go to another school after eighth grade," said Wolf, who has 28 of the school's 40 high-school girls on the varsity and junior varsity.
"We do draw pretty well, but the numbers do limit us, especially when you look at some of the other schools in our league and how many girls they have to draw from."
Next week, Glenelg hopes to rebound in the AIS B Division tournament. Every team in the league advances to the tournament, which runs Nov. 8-13.
Although Glenelg probably will be seeded last, Ordonez tries to convince the players that upsets do happen. In fact, when Ordonez was a senior at Roland Park, her team was seeded last but went all the way to the title game.
"I think that story gives us some inspiration," said Duzor. "Things might finally click for us in the tournament. We have so much potential."