Now in his eighth season on the job, Troy Bowers has built the Tuscarora girls soccer program into a budding juggernaut.
Already this season, the Titans have outscored the opposition 16-0 in their first four victories. That’s after winning the Central Maryland Conference championship during the spring season with an incredibly young roster (eight freshmen).
Bowers chats with Greg Swatek about taking over a program that already had an established pedigree when he accepted the job in a community where he lives. He also talks about how he keeps his players motivated and how they manage expectations.
Tuscarora also has a very talented boys soccer team, and sports writer John Cannon stops in to talk about that, as well as the latest high school football happenings. Who looked good in Week 2? What’s on tap for Week 3? And how about this new MPSSAA proposal that will allow every public-school team in Maryland to make the playoffs?
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Here is an excerpt from the conversation between Bowers and Swatek. It has been edited for space:
Swatek: I wanted to ask you about the schedule. The idea of course is by the time you get to the playoffs, by the time you’re in a state game situation, then you will have faced this kind of pressure, this kind of adversity, this kind of talent before, right?
Bowers: ... Every team here, there are some just knock them down, drag them out games coming up. ... Every game in Frederick County, it’s a fistfight. Everyone gets up to play everyone up here. ... I’ve talked to the girls about not playing down to the level of your competition, because we are such a highly proficient soccer team, they sometimes let [off] the pedal and get off the gas a little bit. And you know, I don’t like that about them. But again, we’ve talked about that today. They stayed connected defensively, and I’m really proud of these four games where we’ve not given up a goal. I don’t care who you’re playing. Four games of soccer, that’s pretty impressive. And it will happen sooner or later, there’s no doubt. And when it does, I’ve talked to them already about what’s going to happen when that goal is scored on us. Because you have to be mentally prepared for these things to happen as a player. And if you haven’t given up a goal in four games, say it happens next game, what are you going to do? Are you going to fight even harder? Are you going to work more relentless, are you going to bring more energy? How are you going to react to that? And that remains to be seen yet because again, we haven’t given up a goal yet. And, kudos to the team. I told them we want to hang on to it as long as we can.
Swatek: So come playoff time, there’s gonna be no doubt in your mind that your team is battle tested?
Bowers: Absolutely. Again, and they’re believing it now. They know why I’ve done this with them. I don’t think they like getting on a bus and driving all the way to Anne Arundel County, especially last weekend [when they won a tournament]. We left at 6:45 in the morning on the bus because we had a 9 a.m. game at Severna Park, and they’re like, ‘Are you kidding me? ...
Swatek: It’s the price you pay for being good, right?
Bowers: Yes. So, I tell him this week, ‘Hey, girls, we played 7 o’clock Saturday night in Bethesda, so you have all day to sleep and then get it get ready to leave at 3 o’clock.
Swatek: Sounds like a lot of talent, but not a lot of egos on your team.
Bowers: It’s funny you say that. We just said that today. We don’t have [big egos]. ... We we don’t talk, we play. And, I’m always on them about the social media. That’s the death of us. You don’t post things. You don’t give stuff to teams for fuel. Stay off the battles on there. Show up, do your work every day in practice, when the game starts, the whistle blows, you give everything you got. And again, let your play talk, not your mouth.
Swatek: You guys have to tune out some of this noise? Everyone’s sort of telling you how great you are, how talented you are. We’re writing articles about you. People are talking about you. Do have to tune out some of that noise?
Bowers: I love how you stated that. One hundred percent. And I have a mentality with this team. I started it three years ago: We don’t look forward on our schedule, we go game by game. And we certainly, beyond the next practice or that night after the game, we don’t look in the rearview mirror, I started a new thing. We do a three to one after each game, three things we did well, two things we could have done better. And one loud cheer. . ... They don’t want to be beat up after our game. We save that for the next day, when everyone’s heads have rested, in a practice. And we have talked about that a lot this year. Because, again, the players tell me, ‘So and so said this ... and so and so said that about their team.’ And I tell them, it’s just noise. Again, if you’re going to get caught up in the noise, you’re going to get bit because you’re not ready to play. So we have to just block it out and show up and play every game like we’ve heard nothing, know nothing, and just get after him. And that’s how we’ve done it. We go game by game. I’ve not looked forward in the schedule at all. We don’t talk about the next game up, beyond the one right in front of us.