The La Plata field hockey team is constantly challenged by its coach to make adjustments on the field. The one thing the Warriors hope remains constant is their winning ways.

La Plata has won five straight to open the season, mostly on the strength of a very experienced team. Coach Pomie Radcliff opened the season with 22 juniors and seniors on the roster, a group so savvy that Radcliff has allowed her players to analyze what adjustments needed to be implemented.

"The one thing that I've been doing quite a bit with them is getting them to evaluate: 'What do you see that's going on?' " Radcliff said. "They're really tuned into what their strengths are, what they feel they are doing well and what they need to work on. Out on that field, they're the ones that are playing and it's really neat to see them make the changes that are necessary."

It has certainly worked, as the Warriors have outscored their opponents 16-3 in five games and their defense has posted three shutouts. It's the kind of start that Radcliff knew her team needed, especially with an upcoming schedule that includes Calvert, Patuxent and Northern -- all at the top of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference standings.

"This is where I was hoping we'd head to," Radcliff said. "Now we're getting into our season of the tougher teams."

Those teams could have trouble matching up with La Plata's constant adjustments. The coach has seen her midfielders switch sides of the field, seen the ball moved from one side of the field to the other and has heard pleadings for communication between units out on the field.

"They're doing so much more communication with each other," Radcliff said. "They're doing a lot of the switching and sharing of the roles that they need to instead of just staying in one spot and never moving."

Cornwell Steps Up

Calvert Coach Bridget LoJacono may have finally found a new source of offense.

Through the first three games of the season the Cavaliers had scored five goals, four of them coming from senior Monica Wynn. But scoring is starting to come from different players, as evidenced by sophomore Ashley Cornwell's goal that beat defending SMAC champion Great Mills on Monday.

"That's big for us for Ashley to score because we don't [try] to get the ball to just one person," LoJacono said. "We try to teach everyone to score."

Calvert had to replace nine players from last year's team because of graduation, transfers and redistricting. Cornwell was one of the players who had to step into a relatively inexperienced starting lineup, having played on the forward line for the school's junior varsity team last season.

"I see her growing each game, each practice," LoJacono said. "This [goal] is a sign of that."

La Plata's Samantha Stalter, Tracey Webster and Tara Rupard, who are all seniors this year, chase after the ball in a game last year against Patuxent.