There is enough pressure in living up to the recent winning tradition of the Lenape girls' soccer team; sensing this fact, coach Kevin Meder wanted this year's edition to be relaxed.
That's hard to do when the two previous Lenape teams won Group 4 state titles, were ranked No. 1 in South Jersey, and included all-American Natalia Torosian, The Inquirer's South Jersey player of the year as a senior in 2008.
Meder has always been about coaching in the moment, rather than wanting his team to live up to the accomplishments of previous squads. Each team has its own identity in Meder's mind, but this year's unit shared the same championship bond as the previous two.
Lenape went 23-1, won its third straight state Group 4 title, and was The Inquirer's No. 1-ranked team for the third straight year. The Indians also won a third consecutive Olympic Conference American Division title and third straight South Jersey Coaches Tournament championship.
For guiding the Indians to yet another banner season, Meder has been named The Inquirer's South Jersey girls' soccer coach of the year.
"We don't want the girls to go out and feel pressure," Meder said. "We just go out and try to win every game and don't look beyond that."
It's a formula that has worked awfully well, and what's most impressive is that Lenape has achieved its record despite key graduation losses each year while having one of the toughest schedules in the state. Plus, a number of young players had to contribute this season, with four sophomores and one freshman in the starting lineup.
If anybody's counting, Lenape has won 16 consecutive Group 4 tournament games, an amazing feat considering the high level of competition.
Even though Lenape lost Torosian and other key seniors, Meder gave the team a simple message during the preseason - that the Indians were good enough to win another state title.
"Early on, we talked about it and said we are capable of continuing this," Meder said.
On one hand, he didn't want to press the team too hard, but on the other, he didn't want to shortchange them.
Meder made the players realize that if they put in the requisite hard work, anything was possible. Most of all, he had the right balance of being able to push the team hard when needed and pull back the reins as well.
"He is a calm guy and likes to make practice fun, but when we have to get to business, it's all business," said senior defender Carley Carmody, a three-year starter on the three state-title teams. "Every practice we would work hard, but he would make it fun, and that is what was so enjoyable about playing for Lenape."
The winning didn't hurt either.
Lenape usually fields talented teams, but the Indians never won a state title until 2007, Meder's third season.
One thing that Meder wants the players to come away with is an appreciation for what they have accomplished.
"Winning a state championship is not something you take for granted, and you recognize how difficult it is to do and how proud you are of their accomplishments," said Meder, whose career record is 101-10-3.
So he got his message across clearly - compete for the moment and against this year's opponents, not last year's Lenape team.
Each team is unique in its own right. The one thing that hasn't changed at Lenape has been the coach's ability to get the most out of his players.