Kristine Holmes is usually on the sideline of every Howard field hockey game.
"She's very supportive," said Erin Holmes, a senior on the team, about her mother. "She cheers a lot."
Holmes gave her mother a lot to cheer about yesterday, scoring three goals to lead the visiting Lions to a 4-0 Howard County victory over Atholton.
There was only one problem, however. Kristine Holmes wasn't there.
"She's in Richmond attending a conference," said Holmes, who had never scored more than once in a game and now leads the team in goals with six. "She's going to be sad she missed this one."
Howard (4-5-2 overall, 2-5-1 league) has won two straight -- the first time its happened since 1996 -- and three of its last five. The Lions' best effort came against Long Reach last Friday when it extended the then-12th-ranked Lightning to overtime before losing, 2-1.
"We worked really well as a team and everything connected," said Holmes about the game against Long Reach. "It was the best game we've played, and it was the best game I've ever played."
Karen Geppi, Howard's third coach in three years, likes the way the Lions have turned things around.
"They've been working hard all season and the last few games they've brought it all together and formed a tough team," said Geppi, a sixth-grade science teacher at Mayfield Woods Middle.
"They played with a lot of heart [against Long Reach]. They played like they love hockey," added Geppi. "I told them it doesn't matter if they lose as long as they played their best, and that's what they did. I felt like we won."
The Lions followed the Long Reach game with a 2-0 win Monday over Walkersville. Their four goals yesterday were the most they have scored since they posted seven against Oakland Mills exactly three years ago to the day.
Holmes scored her first goal with an assist from Torrie Adams with 12: 13 left in the opening half. Two minutes later, Holmes found the back of the cage again, this time getting the assist from Beth Myers.
Holmes completed her hat trick 2 1/2 minutes into the second half with an assist from Stephanie Seiler. Sara Lough, a defender who Geppi moved to wing after the three-goal cushion, scored the final goal with 7: 20 remaining with an assist from Colleen Kirby.
Howard plays host today to Centennial, the same team the Lions will meet in the first round of the Class 2A South region playoffs.
Atholton (0-11, 0-8) has now lost 25 straight games. The Raiders came into yesterday's contest having scored a goal in each of their last two games -- they had gone scoreless in their previous 22 -- but didn't generate much offense against the Lions.
"We didn't click today," said senior Karen Brownlie, whose team plays today at Long Reach. "We just couldn't work together to get the ball up the field."
Brownlie said the streak has been difficult "because you want to win so bad. It hasn't happened in awhile.
"You just have to be positive," Brownlie added. "I go out there to do my best every time to help the team and hope that we score and win."