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In her first year at the helm, Katrina Ross took a Notre Dame Prep team that few expected to contend and guided it to a No. 5 area ranking and a spot in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference title game.

After finishing .500 a year ago and beginning this season unranked, the Blazers went 14-5, including five wins over league powers Archbishop Spalding, McDonogh and Garrison Forest, which began this season ranked first, second and third. And they did it with essentially the same team as a year ago, including nine of the same starters.

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Ross and assistants Jodi Naasz and Lauren Young worked together to develop a squad that went from also-rans to runners-up in the area's most difficult field hockey conference. Now eight seniors are committed to play lacrosse in college, including five who played on a varsity team that went winless in 2014.

Ross, who played at Centennial and Temple, previously served as an assistant college coach at both Towson and Temple, but gave up coaching for several years while pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner and raising four kids.

She eventually wound up coaching at the rec league level, and when approached about the NDP job last summer — after and getting a nudge from husband, Joe — she decided to take on the challenge.

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