Raspy. Gravelly. Hoarse.
Those are just some words that describe the long lost voice of Becky Clipp. A season’s worth of bellowing instructions, shouting encouragement and barking at officials will do that to a girls varsity lacrosse coach.
However, despite the frequently squeaky voice, Clipp’s Comets hear her message going into the postseason loud and clear.
Oh, she’s happy with Catonsville’s 14-1 overall record and the school’s county championship victory over Dulaney, but lifting up a state championship trophy at later this month would provide her and her squad the ultimate level of satisfaction.
“I don’t think that any of us would be happy without a state championship,” said Clipp, who’s in just her second season as head coach.
“But, we are just taking it one game at a time. Our first step was winning counties and our next step is winning regions. We have three games to get there, then it’s on to states.”
So, how does a team go from 9-8 and a ago to county champions hungry to put up another banner? In a word: confidence.
“I’m happy with the fact that we just come out with a lot more confidence this year,” Clipp said. “We are a good team in the county and we can compete in the state. Last year, I don’t think we felt like we were as good. This year their confidence has really, really made me happy.”
On top of that self-assurance, the Comets have made strides on every level of the field because their top players have emerged as vocal leaders as the season has progressed.
Clipp specifically pointed to junior Deb Milani—whose performance last week earned her Baltimore Sun player of the week—and senior Rachel Schwaab as players who’ve filled up the stat sheets with goals and assists while controlling the offensive end of the field vocally and with their play.
Meanwhile, senior Heather Kendrick and junior Maddie Hunt have been stabilizing forces defensively in front of first year varsity goalie Grace Campbell, who Clipp credited with improving each game this season.
The addition of freshmen Lauren McDonald and Jenn Nonn—both of whom tallied two goals in the Comets county title win—have provided Catonsville with renewed energy in the midfield.
After their sterling regular season record secured the Comets the No. 1 overall seed and a first round bye in Class 4A-3A South, Catonsville will host the winner of Bel Air and North County in the region quarterfinals Friday. A win would earn them a likely rematch with Dulaney in the region semifinals on Monday.
If they advance to the region finals, the Comets may take on the team that saddled them with their only loss of the season, third seeded Perry Hall. The Gators topped Catonsville in overtime, 17-16, back in April.
However, with Catonsville steamrolling the majority of their opponents, one may worry that a feeling of complacency could set in, but rest assured, the Comets fiery coaching staff isn’t about to let that happen. They are eyeing the school’s first state championship since 1996.
“I don’t let them get lazy or act like they’re that good,” Clipp said. “I think that [assistant coach]Katie [Muth] and I, we both played in college, so I think we just hold them to a higher standard, so we’re not really ever satisfied. It makes them continue to work hard. We are satisfied, but we make them work hard.”