Last season was supposed to be the breakthrough for the Arundel girls soccer team in its quest to win a first state title. The Wildcats had senior stars all over the field with valuable experience.
They won the Anne Arundel County championship game and appeared primed to make 2013 their year. And then came the crushing defeat to Severna Park on penalty kicks in the Class 4A East region semifinals.
Just like that, it was over.
After losing their top two scorers, the glue to their midfield and their anchor in goal it wouldn't have be unexpected if 2014 was a rebuildiing season for the Wildcats. But that hasn't been the case.
They are impressively 11-1-1 heading into Thursday's game at No. 11 Broadneck, having methodically climbed to No. 3 in The Sun's top 15 poll and clinched a berth in another county championship game. Not too shabby for a team that regularly starts six sophomores and freshmen.
"It's honestly just about developing relationships with these kids and letting them know that the coaches believe in them," Arundel coach Laura Coe said. "They just needed to believe in themselves."
Coe went out of her comfort zone -- switching to a 4-3-3 formation from a 4-2-2 -- to best utilize the team's talent. Balance on offense and a stubborn defense led by All-Metro sweeper Jenna Surdick have been keys.
Ten Arundel players have scored two or more goals, and senior Carly LeCompte tops the list with five.
Sophomore goalie Sabrina Doherty has been strong, and the defense has only allowed three goals in the 13 games.