In her time as Mount Hebron girls lacrosse coach, Brooke Kuhl-McClelland has searched for ways to inspire excitement in her players. As the Vikings went for their 100th consecutive win yesterday, Kuhl-McClelland tried something a little different - surprising her players with new uniforms that she and her assistants hung throughout the school's gym before the game.
"That's one of the few times I saw them squeal like girls because it's hard to get them to celebrate," said Kuhl-McClelland, who is in her sixth season. "That was a great celebratory moment."
Minutes later, the No. 1 Vikings went about their business as usual, notching that 100th win by routing visiting Atholton, 22-0.
There was little drama in the victory over the Raiders (1-3), but no doubt the accomplishment was celebrated and recognized.
Players hugged when the clock struck zeros and posed for a picture in front of a banner commemorating the streak that began in 2001. Senior defender Jackie Doherty even tried to douse Kuhl-McClelland with a water cooler.
It was a unique chance to rejoice on the field for a team that has made winning seem almost automatic.
"It's not even just about our own team. It's about all the other girls who came before us," Doherty said. "You just have a reality check that nothing like this will ever happen again in our lives. We have to enjoy this while it lasts because it really is something amazing."
The last time the Vikings (3-0) lost was in 2001, to St. Stephen's-St. Agnes. Kuhl-McClelland was an assistant at the time and she recalled standing on the bus in Alexandria, Va., and feeling shocked about simply losing one game.
She became head coach in 2002, quickly racking up wins and state championships - the Vikings have won 10 straight state titles. But she couldn't imagine going on this streak.
"I never assumed that we would be looking at undefeated seasons," Kuhl-McClelland said. "It's a little surreal because it's kind of hard to really fathom and get your arms this and say, 'What is it like to win 100 games?' I don't think I really have an answer still. It's hard to gauge."
Junior Ashley Bruns scored less than two minutes in and was the leading scorer with six goals. Each goal brought about a couple of congratulatory stick taps and then it was onto the next goal.
"It's 100. It just builds up," senior midfielder Jill Rekart said. "You go 98, 99 and then when you just have that momentum going and you're just ready to go 101, then 102, and just keep on rolling."