After helping the Sparrows Point's girls' soccer team win four straight Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association 1A state championships, Joe Lambert will begin a new challenge when MPSSAA fall sports practices start Aug. 9.
Lambert, who was an assistant coach for the program's first state title in 2013 and the head coach for the past three, is leaving the girls' team to become head coach of the Pointers' boys' soccer team.
While coaching the girls' team, Lambert recorded a 50-2 record, and in addition to the state titles, the Pointers also won two Baltimore County championships.
"I cannot take all the credit for it," Lambert said. "There's been so much talent to have come through Sparrows Point. The girls work hard and do stuff together outside of soccer constantly; they're incredibly close. In the six years I was a part of the coaching staff, I didn't have to deal with an issue between any of the girls."
Lambert's switch became possible after longtime Sparrows Point boys' soccer head coach George Bischoff decided to retire. Lambert applied for the job, a decision athletic director Russ Lingner supported, but Lingner wanted to make sure he found the right person to take over the girls' program before making the change.
The Pointers graduated just three players from 2016's team, and Lingner didn't want to pick a coach who would disrupt the group's chemistry.
Both Lingner's and Lambert's preference for the position was Lori Sexton, who had been an assistant coach with the team the past three seasons and had also been the program's head coach from 2001-2003. Sexton agreed to fill the vacancy.
"I'm taking on a very successful program, which is exciting, and I think we'll continue to do well," she said. "We already have a lot of talented athletes in the program, and more are coming in, too. Our goals and expectations for this season are the same as they have been the past several years."
Lambert is inheriting a boys' team that has done well in recent years, but not to the level of the girls' success. Sparrows Point's boys' last won their region in 2008, with their most recent state title coming in 2006. Last year's group finished 10-5 and reached the MPSSAA 2A North Section I championship, where the Pointers lost to Eastern Tech, 2-0.
The addition of a coach with Lambert's pedigree has brought a lot of buzz to the boys' team. Senior center back Givoni Herring said his new coach's familiarity is also cause for excitement.
"It's not like they threw a random new coach onto the boys' team," Herring said. "He knows the school, the players, and we've already bonded with him. I think we'll have great chemistry this season. We're all happy. He's a great coach."
While an outsider may look at Lambert's decision and not understand why he would leave the girls' team that's in the middle of an incredible run, the timing for him was perfect.
Lambert's daughter, Kasie, graduated from Sparrows Point earlier this year. She was a member of every Sparrows Point girls' soccer state title team, and even scored the winning goal as a freshman during the program's first championship triumph in 2013.
Lambert had also hoped to find a way to be able to coach his son, Zach, when he starts high school next year. When Lambert heard Bischoff had left the program, he jumped at the chance.
"It seemed like the right fit," Lambert said. "I enjoyed my time with the girls. It was really rewarding, but it was just time to move on. I wanted to see what I could do with the boys' team, and I'm excited to get that chance."
This won't be Lambert's first time coaching boys -- he's been coaching boys in club soccer for years with the Baltimore Bays. Lambert has watched plenty of his new players in recent seasons, and believes he has the talent to play the possession style he used with the girls.
"He really is a model coach," Lingner said. "Joe reminds me a lot of [Orioles manager] Buck Showalter -- never gets bent out of shape, never out of control and doesn't make excuses when things don't go his way. He keeps things in proper perspective, is very level-headed, and the girls were able to feed off that. I'm very confident the boys will, too."