Bel Air soccer coach Bill Zimmerman knew Jen Idzi was a good player, but he knew last year she'd have a tough time making this season's varsity team.
So he made a suggestion. Zimmerman asked Idzi to think about changing positions to become a goalie.
The junior took his advice and has been strong as the Bobcats' starting goalie, helping them to an 8-3 record.
Idzi showed her strength in last week's 2-0 loss to No. 7 C. Milton Wright.
She made 11 saves - eight in the second half - to keep Bel Air in the game.
"She's never played goalie in her life," Zimmerman said. "But she ... has worked really hard this year."
C. Milton Wright rebounded from a flat first half to control play in the second half, but Idzi made several tough stops to keep the game at 1-0 until the Mustangs got three shots in 10 seconds and scored with 1:58 left.
"We just didn't play 40 good minutes in the second half," Zimmerman said.
Idzi has started all 11 games and has been one of the team's pleasant surprises. She's been a big reason that the Bobcats are 3-1-1 in the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference.
Idzi looks like she's still finding her way at times and trying to get comfortable, especially in her positioning. But she is quick, moves around well and has good hands.
Back on track
The C. Milton Wright soccer team saw its UCBAC winning streak of 20 games end with a 2-1 loss to North Harford on Oct. 17, and that's why coach Paul Austin had even more concerns heading into the game with Bel Air two days later.
It's also why Austin was so happy to pull out the aforementioned 2-0 victory. Greta Houlihan had a goal and an assist, while Julia Brown scored a goal. All of the scoring came in the second half.
Austin liked how hard his team played in the second half after a flat first half. They took charge and rallied to seal a spot in this week's UCBAC title game.
"I was really proud of how they played," Austin said. "I was worried after ... the loss, but they [came back]."
It's about teamwork
The North Harford football team and the community pitched in to make sure the Hawks were able to play their home game with Rising Sun two weeks ago.
The game was originally scheduled for Oct. 14 at North Harford, but the large amount of rain that hit the area made the field unplayable that night, and the game was moved back about 24 hours. That's when everyone pitched in.
Players, coaches, parents and friends began work early the next morning and toiled in shifts of about 20-30 minutes. In the end, it took about nine hours to make the field ready for the game, which North Harford won.
"It was so unplayable, I just didn't know if we'd be able to [prepare it]," North Harford coach Ken Brinkman said.
They put a lot of work into the field, doing things such as putting a dump truck of refined sawdust on the visitors' side and raking it into the field to let it breathe. That was done around 12:30 p.m., and about four hours later they ran a roller on top of the field for about two hours.
That's when they began painting and got everything ready about one hour prior to the game. Brinkman said the school has about six to 10 people who work as part of the field crew and do it all on a volunteer basis.
"I can't even explain how valuable they are to us," Brinkman said. "They're just great."
As talented as Sara Bailey is, the C. Milton Wright sophomore who has cemented herself as the No. 3 Mustangs' top runner, doesn't enter every race thinking victory is hers.
"I'm the kind of person that doesn't think I'm going to do as well as I do," she said. "So naturally, I'm happy when I do well."
This fall, Bailey has had reason to be happy. Replacing All-Metro standout Allison Barnes - who opted to concentrate on swimming this fall - Bailey has posted two wins and two other top-10 performances in four invitationals.
Her victory in 18 minutes, 23 seconds at the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference's Chesapeake Division championships at Tollgate Park on Thursday was Bailey's second in as many weeks. She had won the Bobcat Invitational the previous week.
Bailey, who seized control at the 2-mile mark of the UCBAC race, said she put the onus on herself to fill the void left behind by Barnes' absence.
"I thought I needed to step up because it was my second year of cross country, and I had more experience," Bailey said. "I wanted to help my team as much as possible."
Edgewood, North Harford and Joppatowne continue to fight it out for first place in the UCBAC's Chesapeake Division.
With wins last week, Edgewood (4-3) and North Harford (6-1) remain tied for first with a 4-0 record in conference play. Joppatowne's win over Bel Air pushed the Mariners to 6-1 and 3-1 in the conference.
Edgewood is scheduled to go to Joppatowne Friday night, while Fallston meets North Harford. The Hawks already have beaten Joppatowne this year, so if the Mariners lose to the Rams Friday it would set up a three-way tie for first place.
Sun reporter Edward Lee contributed to this article.