When Tom Wall was named the Essex Community College men's soccer coach last spring, he vowed to instill a winning tradition in the players.
Essex, perennially a strong soccer school, was 5-5-1 last season and missed the playoffs.
"We hardly have anyone coming back, but there's a good crop of high school kids graduating," Wall said when he took over as coach. "The key will be getting five or six kids that are good players and building around them."
He has made good on his promise. Starting as many as 10 freshmen at a time, Wall has the Knights on a roll.
After losing three of their first five, Essex had won six consecutive games before yesterday's 2-1 loss to Catonsville. During the winning streak, the Knights outscored their opposition, 27-8.
Most of that scoring has come from freshmen forwards Mike Lance and Luke Bell. In the past seven games, Bell (Dundalk High School) has 10 goals and six assists and Lance (Calvert Hall) has contributed seven goals and seven assists.
Lance (nine goals, 12 assists) and Bell (12 goals, four assists) are among the Maryland JuCo scoring leaders.
"Lance and Bell are playing well right now," Wall said. "They have good speed and they work well together, which makes them a threat."
Essex has three games before the Region XX playoffs at Catonsville Community College. Its three opponents -- Anne Arundel CC, Prince George's CC and Harford CC -- lost to the Knights earlier this season.
A balanced attack
The Catonsville Community College women's soccer team has been playing well on both sides of the ball.
The Cardinals (8-4) have five players among the top 10 Maryland JuCo scorers.
Jennifer McGuire, who is also among the top 15 scorers nationally, is the Maryland JuCo leader with 14 goals and three assists. Sherri Witt (seven goals, three assists) and Natalie Bell (five goals, five assists) are third and fourth, respectively, among the state JuCo scoring leaders. Mindy Bankert (two goals, three assists) and Melissa Schaffer (two goals, three assists) are also in the top 10.
The Cardinals defense, led by Colleen Delaney, Amy Townsend, Angie Hayes and Janell Williams, has been effective as well. Catonsville has given up 11 goals in 13 games.
"This has been a season of peaks and valleys," Catonsville coach Tom Taylor said. "But if there was one word to describe this team it would be dedication."
Catonsville is hoping to experience one of its peaks in its rematch with rival Essex CC on Tuesday. The Cardinals had dropped a 3-1 decision to the Knights earlier this month, and trail in the overall series 40-11.
Campbell to return for BCCC
Erica Campbell, the top female on the Baltimore City Community College cross country team, will compete in the District Championships Saturday at Hagerstown Junior College, BCCC coach Vincent Fuller said.
Campbell has not competed since suffering an ankle injury at the Bowie Invitational earlier this month.