When Bel Air field hockey coach Phyllis Hemmes began coaching in 1972, the girls on this year's team weren't even born.
But as she enters her third decade -- 177 victories, nine county titles, four regional titles and one state title later -- Phyllis Hemmes' coaching philosophy still hasn't changed.
"For the most part, I treat coaching like it's a class: After every game, I ask them what they did well and what they didn't. Then we work on it," says Hemmes, whose 1990 Bobcats team is comprised of nine returning seniors and 12 juniors from last year's unbeaten junior varsity squad.
"I've just had kids who have been willing to learn. You might hear me yell a little bit, but I'm still very positive."
Kristen Wagner, one of the team's four co-captains, recalls a moment after she played her first varsity game last season.
Wagner, a defender, was having trouble with her backfield stance.
Following advice from Hemmes, Wagner corrected the problem and helped contribute to the Bobcats 12-2-1 season, including a 6-0-1 record against county opponents.
"It was obvious she cared about my improvement," says Wagner. "She's inspires you to want to play and it's amazing how much she knows about the game."
The inspiration continued Tuesday as the Bobcats blanked defending Howard County champion, Oakland Mills Scorpions, 5-0.
The victory over the Scorpions, the Class 3A state runner-up a year ago, avenged last year's regular-season loss.
Bel Air senior Marjie Wasson had three assists in the game. Scoring goals were senior Kristine Svec and juniors Jill Schultz, Sheila Rohe, Teri Fox and Michelle Bowen.
The Bobcats downed Class 2A state runner-up Glenelg, 2-1, in their Sept.
14 season-opener and visit Howard County power Centennial tomorrow.
Against Oakland Mills, Hemmes' team turned in a performance that fits her formula: The scoring was spread among several different players and the defense was sound.
Until Bowen scored her goal with five minutes remaining in the first half, however, the game was scoreless.
A vocal Hemmes called a timeout from the sidelines, made an adjustment, and sent her team back on the field where they responded with a pair of quick goals.
"They were only charging to the right side of the field. It was just inexperience," says Hemmes, recalling the moment. "This is a great group of girls, but its sometimes hard to read them. This time, I just told them to shift to the left and they scored."
Wednesday the Bobcats (3-0) got goals from Michele Thomas and Carly Bivens in a 2-0 shutout of Elkton.
Last season, two-time Class 2A state champion Fallston was going for its fourth straight county title when Hemmes' Bobcats tied the Cougars, 1-1, in the regular-season finale for both teams.
The tie gave the Bobcats the county title by just half a game after finishing second to the Cougars in 1988. Bel Air shared the county title with Fallston in 1983 and '86.
Bel Air beat C. Milton Wright for the Class 3A Region III title before losing in the state semifinals to eventual state champion Leonardtown.
Hemmes says her team has vowed that she won't lose a game in 1990.
"We all respect (Coach Hemmes) and we all want to win for her," says Wasson, a co-captain and three-year starter.