Since Joe Ogunsanya took over five years ago as Bowie's girls' soccer head coach, the Bulldogs have met little resistance during the regular season, cruising into the playoffs with their sights set high. But each year, Bowie has hit a wall -- and it always seems to be the same wall: county rival Eleanor Roosevelt.
Ogunsanya thinks this year might be different. On Oct. 18, the Bulldogs (15-2, 12-0 Prince George's) defeated the defending 4A champion Raiders, 2-1 in overtime when forward Megan Gunzelman headed in the game-winner off a throw-in.
Eleanor Roosevelt has eliminated Bowie in the region tournament the past four seasons.
The overtime victory changed the mindset of the Bowie players who believed they could take down Roosevelt and now had the evidence to back up that belief. Ogunsanya said that such positive results are a direct result of the bond that has been formed by his players.
What "is special about the team is for them coming together as a team, and I've been trying to build this team on that concept," Ogunsanya said. "They play as a team, they understand each other and that's a big factor."
The Bulldogs have to rely heavily on their unity during their conference schedule. Most of the schools Bowie faces are unable to field competitive teams, a fact that results in blowout wins for the Bulldogs. The girls enjoy the wins, but captains Amanda Poach and Julie Jacobs have to remind their teammates to maintain their focus and not allow their own level of play to slip.
"We tend to drop down to [the other teams'] level," Jacobs said. "We always try to work on things that we can use in bigger games. It was good we got to play Roosevelt toward the end of the season so our last game wasn't a breeze."
Even though the team is working well together and has a victory over Roosevelt to show for it, Bowie's players are not relaxing, not with a potential rematch with the Raiders in the 4A South Region final. Bowie and Roosevelt are the top two seeds in the region, which begins play tomorrow.
"I wouldn't say we're taking them [Roosevelt] lightly the next time," Poach said. "Some people might think that since we beat Roosevelt we're going to win everything. It would be nice to do that, but there's still a lot of work to do."