A little decal has served as a constant reminder for the Anne Arundel Community College women's soccer team.
On the Pioneers' jerseys are three letters: PBC.
Passion. Blood. Conflict.
Anne Arundel has shown it can play with emotion and do battle with the premier teams in the country. But it's the kinship, or blood, that could make the real difference by the end of the weekend.
As the third seed in the NJCAA national championship tournament, which begins today at CCBC-Essex, the Pioneers hope an all-for-one, one-for-all mantra carries them to the school's first national title.
Anne Arundel moved on to the eight-team tournament by winning its third consecutive Maryland JuCo and second straight Region XX and District E championships.
"We teach the girls to play for one another," Pioneers coach Scott Peavler said. "If we come together and play together when it counts, then we'll do fine."
Anne Arundel (16-1-2), which is ranked No. 3 nationally by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, plays Vermont's Champlain (10-6), the defending national champion and sixth seed, at noon today.
The Pioneers have been building for this moment since 1996, when Peavler took over a program that had three wins over the two seasons before he arrived.
And Anne Arundel's march to national prominence has been swift, thanks in large part to recruiting, mainly in Anne Arundel County. The Pioneers have gone 51-3-6 and are unbeaten in conference play (29-0-3) over Peavler's four seasons.
"I saw something in a lot of these girls that other coaches didn't," said Peavler, who coached four of his current players at South River in 1995. "We have a lot of players who've been in big games. It's no surprise we got here."
Sophomore forward Pollyanna Williams (Arundel) is a big reason. Williams has a knack for going to the goal, and she is particularly dangerous within 18 yards using either foot. Her 27 goals and eight assists lead an attack that has received points from 13 different players.
"I look at scoring like a game of chess," Williams said. "You have to make certain moves and use certain strategies to get into position to score."
Even with a potent offense, it is Anne Arundel's defense that has become its trademark.
Lorie Zamarripa (South River), a first team All-Maryland JuCo and All-Region selection last season, is the central figure in a defensive unit that has yielded just eight goals in 19 games this season. Zamarripa often draws the tough assignments and keys the Pioneers counterattack.
Sweeper Eryn Belt (South River) and fullback Kim Manas (Southern-AA) are both no-nonsense players who bring a rough edge to the backline.
"We feel that if we can stay on our marks, we can keep most teams from scoring," Zamarripa said.
Through it all, Anne Arundel's progress includes one addendum worth remembering. The Pioneers have won despite fielding 14 freshmen, many of whom had never before played together.
It hasn't been easy, but the Pioneers vowed to use their collection of individual talent for the benefit of the team.
"There's been talk among a lot of us about how close we've already become," said freshman midfielder Corrine St. John (Chesapeake) "We just fell into a situation of having so many talented players."
Williams said, "I really didn't know what to expect this season with so many new players. But now I know this group wants to win more than any team I've ever played for."
If Anne Arundel's only other trip to the national tournament last season was seen more as a novelty, that's not so now.
Yet the Pioneers will continue to approach their latest task with the same mentality they have all season.
"Last year, it was enough to have made it to nationals," Zamarripa said. "This year our feelings about winning are stronger."
Schedule for the National Junior College Athletic Association women's soccer tournament at CCBC-Essex (S-stadium; LF-lower field):
Game 1 (S): Monroe, N.Y., (17-0-1) vs. College of DuPage, Ill., (13-5-0), 10 a.m.
Game 2 (LF): Dixie College, Utah (14-2-1) vs. Ocean County, N.J., (15-2), 11 a.m.
Game 3 (S): Anne Arundel (16-2-1) vs. Champlain College, Vt. (10-6), noon
Game 4 (LF): Lewis & Clark, Ill., (22-1) vs. Young Harris, Ga. (16-4), 1 p.m.
Game 5 (LF): Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 10 a.m.
Game 6 (LF): Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, noon
Game 7 (S): Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 10 a.m.
Game 8 (S): Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 1 p.m.
Game 9 (S): Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 10 a.m.
Game 10 (S): Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser, 1 p.m.
Championship (S): Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 11 a.m.