Ignore the record, which is tarnished from competing in the always tough Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. Just listen to the Elizabeth Seton High School field hockey coach.
“This team is unlike any other that I have coached in the past four years,” said coach Bridget Snyder of her 5-6 Roadrunners.
As of Oct. 3, Snyder's girls had lost three straight games — all by one-goal margins — surrendered their short-lived spot on top of the WCAC standings, and the 2-1 shocker against Our Lady of Good Counsel in early September was nearly forgotten.
But Snyder doesn't just think this is her most talented bunch; she said she knows it, just as seniors Devon Denman, Jess Boileau and Sam Burke do.
“I don't know what it is,” Burke said. “But we have more confidence and more fire and more drive.”
So maybe this team is for real. Maybe the losing record and the skid are not so telling. That's what the Roadrunners are saying. That's even what Holy Cross coach Jenna Ries is saying. After all, she did point to Seton's ascent as the sure sign that the WCAC is raising its standards.
The opening two weeks of the season are a testament to that, when Seton took an overtime win over Centennial and a 4-0 rout over Bishop Ireton before really shaking things up by beating Good Counsel, a team that had cruised to 3-1 and 4-1 wins over the Roadrunners in 2011.
“Honestly, I think when we beat Good Counsel that was the happiest I've seen our team in a while,” Denman said. “When we beat them we were like 'Wow, we can do anything.' I think that kind of made other teams realize that Elizabeth Seton was for real.”
The three weeks that followed, however, were reflections of the Seton team that had middled out in each of the past three years. The 3-0 start preceded an agonizing 2-6 stretch in which the Roadrunners lost by a mere eight goals combined.
“In a sport like field hockey where goal differential is so close it really is crushing,” Denman said. “But coach Bridget will sit us down and say 'OK, what did we do wrong?' and implement those changes the next day in practice.”
Being a rather young team may not be a viable excuse for its flip-floppy play this late in the season, but Seton is remarkably green.
Seton's leading scorer, Marguerite Matta, is only a sophomore, and two more underclassmen, Michaela Schmidt and Megan Kotelchuck, are also seeing significant playing time.
“[They] have really stepped up this year,” Snyder said of her young core. “Their contributions on the field have helped to produce a lot of our goals. All three of them are tough kids with years of field hockey experience. Matta in particular has a never-stop attitude that has helped her push through some minor injuries this season.”
Young, yes — “it doesn't matter their age,” Burke says — but Seton certainly has the tools to dethrone injury-laden Holy Cross. That's the plan, at least.
“We have a lot of chemistry that other teams really don't have,” junior defender Kat Callahan said. “We all have great stick skills and when you combine that on the field you can beat teams you normally don't beat.”
Good Counsel is a team they normally don't beat. That's been checked off the to-do list. Holy Cross is certainly a team they normally don't beat. That box remains unmarked.
“I couldn't ask for a better senior year than to beat Holy Cross and Good Counsel,” Denman said.
The odds aren't exactly stacked in Seton's favor, but the Roadrunners don't seem to care.
“I'm ready to make it to the WCAC championship,” Denman said. “That's all I have to say.”