For Spalding's Bozel, third year is the charm 1992 ALL-ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY FIELD HOCKEY TEAM Coach of the Year

November 18, 1992|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff Writer

Mary Pat Bozel never set a winning record as a goal during her first two seasons as field hockey coach at Archbishop Spalding. Just being competitive, maybe even reaching .500, would have sufficed.

But not any more. Before this season, she decided that coming close no longer counted. This is field hockey, after all, not horseshoes.

"These were my three-year kids," she said. "I knew they had potential their freshman year. And a lot of the kids who had gotten used to losing were gone. These kids really wanted to win, so I kind of knew they were going to do it.

"I kept telling them they were going to do it and they believed in themselves."

The Cavaliers went 8-4-2, a drastic improvement over the 3-10-1 record of the previous year. They even knocked off Class 4A playoff teams Chesapeake, 3-1, Arundel, 1-0, and Annapolis, 2-0, and tied Broadneck, 1-1. In the two seasons prior to Bozel's arrival, Spalding had

a combined 1-20-3 record.

Bozel, The Baltimore Sun's Anne Arundel County Field Hockey Coach of the Year, views the Chesapeake win as a turning point -- the clearest signal that Spalding had arrived.

"The kids realized we could beat some of these strongholds in the county."

Bozel went through her own metamorphosis before the season. A goaltender during her playing days at Loyola College, she had to gear more of her teachings toward offense. Scoring goals, not just preventing them, would be a priority.

The result: a school-record 31 goals. And they didn't come at the expense of the defense. Spalding had eight shutouts, third most in the county.

"When she first took over the team, none of us knew even the basic skills," said junior Marie Swartwood. "This year was the first year she could go beyond the basic skills and teach us more finesse. We

had set plays this year that we never had before."

The season looked as though it would conclude like so many others when Spalding lost to winless Meade, 3-1, on Oct. 27. The Cavaliers had one game remaining, against Annapolis, where Bozel had been an assistant coach for three seasons.

"They knew I was very upset after the Meade game," said Bozel, a Spalding graduate. "I told them how much they had worked for all year, and losing to Meade could really hurt them. The only teams we had lost to were Glenelg, Old Mill and Severna Park, and they all went to regionals. After the [Meade] game, they knew I was disappointed, and they were very disappointed."

Bozel looked for a silver lining. She reminded her players that two respected programs, Severna Park and St. Mary's, also had lost that day.

"Mentally, that brought us back up a little bit," she said. "It was saying, 'Hey, somebody else can make mistakes, too. Let's go on from here.' "

Feeling better about themselves, the Cavaliers went out and defeated Annapolis handily.

"It was like our playoff game," Bozel said.

This was just one example of how Bozel's players responded.

"Everybody out there loves her," said senior Megan O'Brien.

"She's more than just a coach," Swartwood said. "She's always there for us."

Bozel said, "I'm very hard on them, but they know that I care about the program. So, I think we have a very good relationship. They knew I had a heart in Spalding, being a graduate, and that I wanted to change the program around."

The biggest change came this season, and Bozel is quick to credit her players.

"It was a good group of kids to work with," she said. "They gave 110 percent all year, and they all had a lot of respect for each other. Nobody was carrying the team. It was a well-balanced team."

And a winning one. Bozel wouldn't have settled for anything less.

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