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Monday, July 27, 2009
Boylan's leaving is a loss for high school soccer

By Sheldon Shealer
ESPNRISE.com

When Maurice Boylan was hired in 1991 as girls' soccer coach at McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.), he was given one set of instructions from the administration.

"Build a high school program like what we built with the Baltimore Football Club," Boylan said, referring to the then youth club soccer power. "I said, 'I can do that.'"

Maurice Boylan
Maurice Boylan not only built a soccer power at McDonogh but also helped create the interstate play that justifies national rankings.
Eighteen years and more than 300 wins later, Boylan is walking away from the McDonogh program he built into a perennial fall soccer national power. The Eagles were in the running for the ESPN RISE FAB 50 No. 1 ranking last season until they fell to Archbishop Spalding (Severn, Md.) in the conference championship. McDonogh ended the season 21-1-1 and ranked No. 10.

Boylan said his leaving McDonogh was a mutual decision between himself and the school administration and it coincided with his father being in poor health.

"I wasn't really happy," he said. "I was hired to coach, but things are changing [at McDonogh]. And, with the things going on with my dad, I looked at it as a good segue to do something else."

Boylan has an all-time coaching record of 316-84-34 with more than 300 of those wins coming at McDonogh. He had short coaching stints at Maryvale and Park School, both in Baltimore. He also coached the boys' soccer team at Hammond High School (Columbia, Md.) for two years. He is the second-winningest girls' soccer coach in Maryland history, trailing only active Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) coach Jim Bruno.

Harry Canellakis, the former Culver Academies (Culver, Ind.) coach, has been hired to replace Boylan and teach history at McDonogh. Canellakis compiled a four-year record of 52-7-6 at Culver, which reached the Indiana state semifinals last season.

Boylan's leaving is more than simply a coach moving on. While building the McDonogh program, he was instrumental in arranging matches with national-ranking implications. His teams often traveled to Tennessee for the Redmond Classic in the early 2000s and his programs have toured the country in search of competition, even once going to New Mexico, since those schools are not allowed to play outside of the state.

Boylan created the season-opening McDonogh Invitational, which became the showcase for fall powers in the past decade. In the past six years, the McDonogh Invitational featured top programs from eight of the 26 fall-playing states and never had fewer than four nationally ranked teams in the annual eight-team event. Pennington Prep (Pennington, N.J.) and McDonogh won their first two matches in 2008 to set up a No. 1 showdown, but the contest was canceled due to heavy rain. Pennington went on to a perfect season and a FAB 50 final No. 1 ranking.

McDonogh made appearances in the FAB 50 rankings each of the past 11 seasons, although last year's No. 10 finish marked its highest final ranking.

Under Boylan, the Eagles won three league titles and finished runner-up five times in a conference that features Archbishop Spalding, St. Mary's (Annapolis, Md.) and John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.) -- all private school powers that have been in the national rankings in the past five years.

More than 50 eventual NCAA Division I players went through McDonogh during Boylan's tenure. The most recognizable name was former North Carolina Tar Heel and U.S. national team standout Laurie Schwoy.

Last year's McDonogh team featured five NCAA Division I signees, including its entire senior midfield group. The Eagles project six returning starters in 2009, five who played for the Maryland State Cup under-16 club champion Baltimore Bays coached by Boylan. Keeper Morgan Ruhl and forward Ashley Spivey are two projected returnees who are national-caliber recruits.

Boylan started to entertain ideas of leaving McDonogh when his father's health took a turn for the worse in the spring.

"I thought I would take some time off [from coaching] to spend more time with him," Boylan said. "Then, he passed away in late June."

Boylan said this is the first time since 1980 that he has not coached soccer in the fall. He will remain involved in the sport as a regional ranking representative for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. His daughter, currently a junior at McDonogh, is a starter for the Eagles, so he said he expects to attend her matches.

Sheldon Shealer covers youth soccer for ESPNRISE.com. He can be reached at Sheldon.Shealer@espn.com .