Nancy Shea, a former Baltimore Sun All-Metro coach of the Year, will be Atholton's varsity girls soccer coach next fall.
Shea, 48, coached the Raiders junior varsity team last season and replaces Chuck Teal as the varsity coach.
She was the Oakland Mills girls varsity coach for two years, and her Scorpions team won a state title in 1992.
Atholton posted a 7-5-3 record last season, and is considered an up-and-coming program. The Raiders lost in the region semifinals to Hammond on penalty kicks, after upsetting Glenelg in the playoffs.
"We have a good core group returning that I'm looking forward to working with," said Shea, who also will teach physical education at Atholton.
Shea's husband, Don, is the boys coach at Oakland Mills.
Mount Hebron and Centennial square off tonight at 7:30 at Johns Hopkins in a game that should decide the Howard County championship.
The Vikings have won three straight county titles since Centennial last won the title in 1998.
In all, Mount Hebron has won 13 county titles, 11 regional titles and five state titles. Centennial was a state champ in 1998.
Tonight's game should feature offense.
Mount Hebron's top scorer is Kurt Nordhoff with 24 goals and 16 assists. Brendan Taylor has 22 goals and 13 assists.
Centennial (6-2 overall, 4-0 league) is led by Sean Dougherty with 27 goals and four assists, Mike Down with 19 goals and 10 assists, Evan Calvert with nine goals and 18 assists and Brennan Dougherty with nine goals and 13 assists.
"There are three keys to the game for us," said Eagles coach Mike Siegert. "We obviously have to neutralize Nordhoff. We can't afford to foul because we gave up eight goals in 12 extra-man situations against Hammond. And we need to do well on faceoffs."
Struhar on mission
Long Reach softball coach Chuck Struhar had one goal in mind entering this season. He wanted his team to learn how not to lose.
It's been going so well, the Lightning are now on the cusp of learning how to win.
Regarded as one of the best coaches in the county during a nine-year stretch at Glenelg and a four-year stint at Long Reach, Struhar stepped down as the Lightning's head coach after the 2000 season to concentrate on coaching his daughter's youth fast pitch team. But he returned to the position this year after Dale Harriman, last year's coach, took a job in the central office at the board of education.
Struhar quickly turned Long Reach, which went 6-16 in 2001, into one of the scrappiest teams in the area, hanging in games by playing defense and making his pitchers throw strikes. And while the 5-7 Lightning are still sanding down some rough edges, the results have been plenty impressive.
"I'll tell you, nobody wants to play us right now," Struhar said. "Everybody thought we were going to be also-rans, but we're right there with everybody. We're right on the fringe of take that next step."
Struhar knew things were turning around when Long Reach knocked off McDonogh, 17-6, earlier this year at the South Carroll Tournament when the Eagles were ranked No. 1 in the metro area. Since then, the Lightning has lost close games to River Hill, Howard, Atholton and Glenelg, who are a combined 29-5.
"Our philosophy is pretty simple. Our pitcher, Nicole Guyton, is going to throw strikes, and we're going to play defense," Struhar said. "You can hit us, because we know we're going to catch it."
Guyton has been very consistent, as has junior Crystal Buckingham and senior Kari Filipowicz. But the biggest surprise has been freshman third baseman Jessica Granek, who has hit over .400 and been stellar in the field.
"I think Jessica may be the best player I've ever had," Struhar said. "She's certainly one of the smartest."
Long Reach did suffer a setback this week when senior second baseman Jen Kennedy broke her nose after she was hit in the face with a line drive. Kennedy suffered an asthma attack after having trouble breathing and had to go to the hospital in an ambulance. Fortunately, Kennedy was fine, but whether or not she'll play again is unclear.
"Jessica is a great kid who has put in a lot," Struhar said.