First, she had to teach them the sport. Then, she had to teach them to believe in themselves, despite not winning a game the first season.
It was 1996 when Kelly Snyder began the field hockey program at Long Reach. Eight players who were on that team -- including six of them who started -- were on the field yesterday when the Lightning played Glenelg in their last home game of the regular season.
They walked off field with a share of the county championship.
Long Reach needed a victory over Glenelg to force a first-place tie with the Gladiators, who had clinched a share of the title last week. The Lightning played an inspired first half, getting two goals from junior Brandi Franks, then withstood a furious late-game rally by the Gladiators for a 2-1 decision.
"I'm so proud of my team," said Snyder. "We did a lot of good things."
Glenelg finished 7-2 in the county, its first winning county record since 1992 when it last won the title. Long Reach was 6-1-2 and earned a tie based on the system that awards two points for a win and one for a tie.
The 13th-ranked Lightning (9-2-2 overall) tied River Hill and Hammond and lost to Centennial. No. 15 Glenelg (10-4) lost its first of two straight, 2-0, last Friday at Wilde Lake.
The Gladiators knew they already they had a share of the title, and played like it the first half.
"We didn't know where we were," said junior Elizabeth Narron. "We were playing tentative."
Said Glenelg coach Ginger Kincaid: "It's hard to go for something when you already have it."
Long Reach scored 2: 26 into the game, when Theresa Heston sent a free hit into the circle and Franks tipped it in with her stick.
Seven minutes later, sophomore Sherry Epperson, standing to the right of the cage, sent a centering pass that Franks one-timed into the goal.
Glenelg didn't take its first shot of the second half until 16: 25 remained. The Gladiators scored on their second penalty corner of the half, when O'Connor assisted Narron's goal.
The score woke Glenelg up. The Gladiators dominated the rest of the game, taking 11 more corners, including six straight in a three-minute span.
Goalie Jaye Lance made some nice saves and got help from defenders Linda Nguyen and Theresa Heston.
Both teams were in good spirits after the game. Long Reach had battled back from a 1-1-2 county start to earn the title. Glenelg, which took 19 corners yesterday, had won the county title and was glad to have ended the game on a such positive note.