In 1978, Bill Seal coached McDonogh to a 14-3 record and one of four Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference boys soccer crowns. And in 1990, another Eagles squad lost, 2-1, to Calvert Hall in the tournament semifinals.
"Those were two great teams," said Seal, in his 22nd year at the Owings Mills private school.
But he doesn't mince words in calling this year's team "the best team we've ever had." It is ranked No. 3 in the area at 13-2 (12-2 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference) with a eight-game winning streak, and the top seed in tomorrow's MIAA tournament semifinal against Gilman 11-6-2).
Seal's teams went 5-9 three years ago, 5-11 two years ago and 8-9-1 last season.
But this year's Eagles are doubly blessed: Several players are from soccer- rich Howard County and experienced in the Olympic Developmental Program.
"We were mediocre last year, but the program's really improved," said senior center midfielder Bobby Landolt.
"This could be my last year on a winning team after being on a team that struggled last year," said Landolt, one of just four seniors with keeper Mike Barr and defenders Mike Dubansky and Dave Koloski. "After we're gone, this team's got an even better future."
Landolt, McDonogh's second-leading scorer with five goals and seven assists, is an ODP state team player. Koloski (six goals) is from Columbia as is sweeper Pablo Webster (two, three), a member of the national team pool for his age group.
Columbia natives and junior midfielders Dave Buehler (nine goals, five assists) and Ben Salsbury are ODP state-teamers, as are midfielders Bobby Cherneski, a sophomore from Carroll County, and Baltimore County freshmen Vinnie Ciarpella and Jonathan Cole (three goals, four assists).
Seal's 3-5-2 formation loads the midfield, where he has the most talent.
"Our attitude is we're one of the best teams around," said Webster. "We don't give you anything; you earn it. To beat us, you have to be real good that day."