Ireland has tradition of winning 1992 ALL-HOWARD COUNTY FIELD HOCKEY TEAM COACH OF THE YEAR

November 18, 1992|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

Like many successful coaches, Mount Hebron field hockey coach Jeanette Ireland would rather divert attention to her players.

"The turnout was tremendous this year, and [field hockey] camp attendance has increased the last two years," said Ireland, The Baltimore Sun's Howard County Field Hockey Coach of the Year. "It's been fun. The kids have been great."

So has Ireland, since she arrived three seasons ago to take over a program that had been presumed dead. Hebron was coming off a 1-10 season and had gone several years without a victory over a county opponent.

Ireland, a former assistant coach at Johns Hopkins, changed that picture in a hurry. She urged players to begin supporting a program with a new beginning. She preached about the importance of honing skills at off-season hockey camps. And she began teaching fundamentals as they needed to be taught.

The results are telling. Under Ireland, the Vikings have had three consecutive winning seasons, two straight playoff appearances and a 23-12-3 record. They have not lost an overtime game in two years.

They clearly have moved into the league's upper echelon, a position that has been occupied by Glenelg and Centennial over the years.

This year, the Vikings, despite an inconsistent offense and team not quite as talented as Glenelg, took another step forward.

The Vikings went on to the playoffs, where they lost a 1-0 decision to state finalist Chopticon.

"We were really gunning for a county championship. Our other goals were to win at least 10 games and advance to Goucher [College, site of the state playoffs]," Ireland said.

Next year promises to bring Ireland her greatest challenge since she first walked in the door at Hebron. Eight starters will graduate.

"We're not going to be as polished or as skilled," Ireland said. "No doubt about it, we're going to be young. We may not be that strong early, but I keep telling my juniors that we'll be fine."

Given Ireland's track record, there is no reason not to believe her.

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