They are proud, talented and a bit cocky.
They are the four soccer players from Howard County who have gone south to Roanoke College in Virginia in hopes of being part of an NCAA Division III tournament team.
Senior midfielder Ryan Pflugrad from Hammond High started the migration three years ago, and sophomores Chris Ebeling, Dave Lechtrecker and Glenn Hayman have followed.
"We play the best soccer in the state in Howard County," Hayman said. "I know they think they're tough in East Baltimore, but we play a different style. We're more physical and stay back while they're always going forward and relying on finesse."
Ebeling is a goalkeeper from Oakland Mills who has two shutouts for Roanoke (4-1); Lechtrecker is a forward from Mount Hebron who has three goals and two assists; and Hayman is a defender out of Oakland Mills.
Roanoke is ranked third in the South Region and hopes to soon break into the national top 20.
"The four of us are the core of the team," Hayman said of the four starters and first-team All-Metro high school choices. "We come from a strong soccer background, are all friends and hang out together. It's fun playing soccer here and I believe the team came closer together this summer when we spent 10 days playing in Brazil."
Pflugrad said he chose Roanoke over some mid-level Division I schools because "I didn't like what they were offering me."
Pflugrad said his mother "told me to look at smaller schools and I liked the soccer tradition at Roanoke. They went to the final eight in the D-III tournament in 1992, and we were ranked fourth in the nation early in my freshman year."
One of Pflugrad's biggest thrills came when he and then-No. 13 Roanoke went into Homewood Field three years ago and upset No. 10 Johns Hopkins. Now it's the last hurrah for Pflugrad, and he believes Roanoke will make the Division III tournament for the first time in his career at the school.
The team also has a fifth Baltimore-area player, senior midfielder Neil Bourdelaise from Severn.
Jack keeps scoring
Junior Linda Jack (South River) scored the winning goals in back-to-back victories last weekend for the undefeated Lynchburg College field hockey team (6-0).
Jack knocked in the deciding goal in a 3-2 double overtime victory Sunday over York College after hitting the big shot Saturday to defeat Roanoke. Jack was chosen the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Player of the Week for a second time this season.
Juniors Kelly Conlon (Dulaney) and Lisa Walls (Fallston) are also on the Lynchburg squad.
Syracuse freshman forward Stephanie Sybert (Maryvale) scored her first collegiate soccer goal in a 2-1 victory over Illinois. The Orange later lost its first game of the season, falling to second-ranked UCLA, 2-0, to drop to 3-1.
Senior forward Mara Finglass (Hammond) scored a goal in Roanoke's 3-0 field hockey victory over Bridgewater. Her senior teammate, goalkeeper Jodi Godbout (Centennial), registered the shutout for Roanoke (2-2). Also members of the Roanoke team are sophomore forward Kelley Busik (St. Mary's), sophomore forward Rachel Flint (Towson) and freshman midfielder Heather Mosser (Dulaney).
Sophomore Amy Rappaport (Howard) is a stopper for the Virginia Tech women's soccer team (2-2-1), which is playing its first season in the Big East. Rappaport has started all five games.