With the junior college national tournament fast approaching, Anne Arundel women's soccer coach Mike Miles offers fair warning to upcoming opponents.
"When we're playing our game," he said, "I don't think anyone can touch us."
Dundalk Community College couldn't touch the Pioneers during yesterday's Region XX finals. Anne Arundel simply ran past the Lions, posting an easy 3-0 victory on Siegert Field.
Anne Arundel, 12-4-3 and ranked seventh nationally among junior colleges, makes its third straight appearance in the tournament beginning Nov. 15 at Mercer Community College in New Jersey.
The last two seasons, the Pioneers have been eliminated, 1-0, by the eventual champion. Assistant coach Hillary Dean doesn't expect history to repeat itself.
"We're not going up there to lose, that's for sure," he said. "I expect this team to explode when they get up there, and if they do, we have a very, very good shot at (the championship)."
South River graduate Megan McElhenny (nine goals, four assists) wasn't certain at the onset of the season that the Pioneers were national tournament material.
"We had a rough start, losing the first couple games," the sophomore halfback said. "But then we got it together as a team and I think we have a good chance of winning it.
"There are no standouts on the team. It's equally balanced. We all work as one. I think that makes us a better team."
Miles said it was a matter of the Pioneers realizing their potential.
"They realize they can't expect themselves just to play up to the caliber they need to play to win," he said. "They need to push it hard all the time. That showed in the first five minutes."
Anne Arundel's first goal, at 2 minutes, 20 seconds, was made possible by the speed of McElhenny, who outran Dundalk fullback Chelsea Cain to the ball and easily beat freshman keeper Nicole Cave.
Cain was looking to tap the ball back to Cave (13 saves), but was slow to retreat.
"I moved around on the inside of her," McElhenny explained, "and the goalie came out and I just tipped it to the left side of the goalie."
McElhenny was denied on her next two attempts, but another South River grad, Sharon Roe, lofted a shot into the upper right-hand corner of the net at 14:29 to put Anne Arundel ahead, 2-0.
Cave made two clutch saves to keep the score close, once leaping high to tip a McElhenny shot over the top post.
Duffy Kelly (Southern) recorded her ninth goal of the season with 19:19 left to close the scoring.
Dundalk (7-7-2), playing with only two sophomores, was outshot, 15-0, in the first half and 35-5 for the game. Anne Arundel keeper Crissy Sisk (Northeast) wasn't tested until 6:40 into the second half, when Yvonne Commadari drilled a shot off her hands.
Commadari nearly scored on a breakaway with 45 seconds remaining, but her shot struck the left post, enabling Sisk to register her eighth shutout of the year.