Review & preview: Hood

A look at the 2013 season for the Blazers and a glimpse into 2014

June 14, 2013|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Here is the second installment of a series that checks in with the eight Division III programs in the state to give a glimpse into the past and the future. Teams are scheduled to appear according to the chronological order in which their seasons ended. Thursday’s visit was with Frostburg State. Friday’s visit is with Hood.

REVIEW

The good: The Blazers slogged their way through a 3-14 overall record and a 0-8 mark in the Middle Atlantic Conference, and the lackluster campaign was exacerbated by the dismissal of head coach Jeremy Mattoon prior to the team’s regular-season finale against Widener on April 27. But assistant coach Brad Barber said he continued to see some positives. “We’re a young team and with a young team comes inexperience. But as the season went on and despite the record and despite the scores, I saw a lot of growth both individually and as a team,” he said. “So that’s very exciting to see, especially bringing back the athletes that we’re bringing. We’re looking to build on that. We have the core foundation now. We have a group of athletes that have bought in.”

… The season ended with the team saddled with an eight-game losing skid – with all of the losses coming to league opponents. But Barber said he was encouraged by the players’ drive throughout the year. “To have the season that we had with the ups and downs and to see them continue to fight until the last game of the season was great to see,” he said. “If you look at our record at 3-14, they could have easily packed it in midway through the season and said, ‘You know what, we’re done.’ But through the coaching staff and the players and the institution, they kept on trucking. That’s just the kind of mentality they have. What we’ve instilled in them is that no matter the result is, you’ve got to give your best effort, and they did that day in and day out in practices and games. You could see that they were really working to make that next step forward. We’re still a very young program and we’ve got a lot of growing to do. I think next year will be a turning point, and I’m excited to see that.”

… In his last hurrah, midfielder Alex Engler etched his name in the school’s record book when he finished with a team-best 14 assists. The Sykesville native and Century graduate compiled 35 assists over his four-year career, passing Will Oconis (29 assists between 2005-08) as the program’s all-time leader in that department. Engler, who also led the offense in points with 25 and tied for the team lead in goals with 11, emerged as the undisputed quarterback. “Alex Engler went into his senior year and a lot was expected of him, and he really stepped up to the plate,” Barber said.

The bad: When Hood made the switch from the Capital Athletic Conference, the thought was that the team would be able to bounce back from a 4-13 overall record and a 2-6 mark in that league. But things got worse for the team in its new conference. The Blazers were outscored, 117-25 – which included an 18-0 shutout loss to Albright on March 28 and five other contests in which the offense scored five goals or fewer. “I would say we didn’t meet our expectations,” Barber said. “Understanding that we were making a conference switch, I anticipated making the conference tournament in the first year. But you also have to understand that the athletes that we have are young. Certainly with a young team, you expect to win, but the ball didn’t always fall on our side in favor of us.”

… The team fared better in the nonconference portion of its schedule, winning all three games during that stretch. Hood dropped a two-goal decision to Neumann on March 8, a three-goal contest to Shenandoah on Feb. 27, and four-goal game to Misericordia on March 13. Those were losses that Barber would like to have another shot at. “Were there some close games we should’ve won? Yes, there were some games we should’ve won, that we let get by us,” he said. “But I think that just comes with youth and inexperience with each level. A lot of the teams that we played had a lot of upperclassmen, and a lot of teams that we played are used to playing conference games. We were the new kids on the block and we were just getting our feet wet.”

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