Last season, when the Maryvale Prep girls’ soccer team moved up from the IAAM’s B Conference to the A, midfielder Gabby Tana wasn’t nervous about the increased level of play.

In fact, she was looking forward to the challenge of putting her skills to the test against the top league in the state of Maryland.

“I love that we moved up,” said Tana with a huge smile. “It was great winning a championship in the B Conference but to me, playing teams that are more challenging is going to make you a better player.”

In 2008, their final season in the B Conference, the Lions brought home its second straight league championship.  Making the move up would definitely be an adjustment for the Brooklandville program.

For Tana, who earned a spot on the IAAM B Conference All-Star as a freshman and sophomore, transition has been just fine.

As a junior last season, Tana led the Lions with 13 goals and nine assists on their way to a 3-7-0 league record.  She was selected to the IAAM A All-Star squad by the league’s coaches.

“Moving up to A conference, with Gabby in her sophomore year, made the decision a lot easier,” said Maryvale coach Colin Devlin.  “You sacrifice the banners to challenge your players at the top level. Gabby excels at this level and commands the respect of my fellow coaches, as evident by always being double and sometimes triple-teamed by our opponents.”

He added: “Gabby has earned my respect and that of her teammates these past four years.  She is a captain, a leader and an exemplary student who always displays role model qualities on and off the field.”

Tana grew up in a family that loves soccer. Her father Jerry is the head coach of the boys’ soccer team at Dulaney High, as well as the director of club development for the Baltimore Soccer Club.  Younger brother, Sam, is a junior at St. Paul’s School.

Tana admitted that being the kid of a soccer coach has its perks.

“I love the fact that my dad is a soccer coach. I grew up in a soccer family,” said Tana. “My older brother Sean played soccer and my dad coached him too, so it’s like a soccer dynasty that we’ve all been through. “

“A lot of people think that being coached by your dad means that you get to take a break and you get privileges but it’s the complete opposite,” she added. “I know that I am always going to get his honest opinion and in fact, I’m challenged even more because he is my dad.”

Tana has scored seven goals and four assists this season for Maryvale, which has amassed a 5-5-1 mark (3-3-0 in the IAAM A).

“I wouldn’t have asked for anything else,” Tana said about playing in the IAAM A. “I love this team and we all work together and it’s a great group of girls.”

Tana said she has narrowed her college choices down to Loyola University, Gettysburg, Dickinson and Roanoke.

“I’ve already applied [to Loyola] and it would be awesome if my parents could come watch me play,” said Tana. “I’ve seen a couple of their games before, I went to the game when they played George Washington and they are so tactical and the coach [Katherine Vettori ] knows what she’s doing.”

Despite the her team’s struggles on the field, Tana realizes it’ll benefit her in the future.

“Playing against these teams, makes me work quicker,” Tana said, “and obviously it’s going to prepare me for what I’m going to be getting in college.”