Jeannette Ireland coaches a field hockey team like no other in Howard County.
It hasn't lost.
"I'm not surprised, I'm pleased," said Ireland, whose Mount Hebron team improved to 4-0 Wednesday with a 2-0 victory over Linganore and will play at McDonogh today. "I knew the potential was there."
In getting off to their best start in the six seasons Ireland has coached, the Vikings have scored 10 goals and given up none.
"I know they're pleased because their hard work is paying off," Ireland said. "But they're taking it in stride. They're not cocky. We're taking one game at a time."
Before beating Linganore, the Vikings defeated Middletown, 3-0, Perry Hall, 4-0, and Bel Air, 1-0. Ireland called the victory over Bel Air "the most important game of the season so far," but it also was the costliest.
Forward Heather Smoll suffered a medial collateral tear in her right knee and most likely will be lost for the season. "We definitely have lost some experience and some scoring," Ireland said of her senior co-captain who had two goals.
Leading Mount Hebron offensively have been junior forward Kelly Dodson with four goals and senior forward Lara Prendergast with three goals and one assist. "They feel the responsibility to score until the younger players mature at this level," Ireland said.
Ireland added that junior forward Rachel Karfonta has "done a magnificent job getting the ball down the field and that Brigitte Goss is "playing real consistent in the midfield."
Ireland credits the four shutouts to her defensive leaders, goalie Jessica Cruttenden and sweeper Staci Hoffman. "They're both playing really well," said Ireland, who added that Hoffman has made a couple saves. Ireland added that Anne Stocker "is doing a really nice job at left back."
"They've worked hard," Ireland said, "but we still have room for improvement. Our defense has been tested, and that's good. I expect to be really tested today and on Monday."
The Vikings open their league schedule Monday at Atholton, which defeated Perry Hall, 3-0, yesterday.
Mount Hebron has 19 varsity players, 12 of them juniors. "This is my largest squad ever," Ireland said. "I've never carried this many, but I felt they all deserved to make it."
Glenelg needs a break
Glenelg's girls soccer team is 1-3, but coach Mike Williams has no complaints.
"They're good kids, good soccer players," said Williams. "They haven't played poorly. We've outshot everybody except South Carroll, but we don't have anything to show for it."
Senior midfielder Lee Custer, a first-team All-County pick last season, was injured and missed the Gladiators' opening game, a 2-1 loss against Westminster. She's played in the other three games and scored all her team's goals in a 3-1 victory over North Carroll.
Senior midfield Kim Ridolfi is out with a knee injury and Williams hopes she can return next week. Carolyn Flowers, a forward who has Glenelg's only other goal, has moved to midfield to take Ridolfi's place.
Williams is pleased with his defense (six goals allowed), especially the play of stopper Lauren Brown, who played midfielder last season. "She's done very, very well," Williams said. "She's been a very positive factor."
Glenelg, like the other county teams, opens league play today by traveling to unbeaten Howard. The Gladiators defeated Howard last year, 3-2, but Williams said his team is "certainly the underdog."
"If we could do better, we surely would," Williams said. "I don't think my kids want to fail or be unsuccessful. They're doing the best they can do. We're competitive. We've been in all our games. If we can create a break here or there, we could pull one out."