The Harford County girls lacrosse season will be a showcase of some powerful offenses this year.
Many of the top attack players from ayear ago return to the field, including the county's top two scorers. Fallston, Joppatowne, Bel Air and C. Milton Wright all bring back highly talented players who should make this an even more high-scoringseason than usual.
On the other hand, none of the four teams returns its strength atdefense. They'll all be in the hunt for a county title that looks wide open from the start.
Defending champ Fallston has a lot of rebuilding to do, and so does Joppatowne, but each has key strengths which may carry them through. Bel Air and C. Milton Wright also will challenge for the county title with strong returning contingents.
The one team that would be favored for the county title doesn't even playin the league. John Carroll, which has a tremendous corps of seniorsreturning, has strength and depth at every position. The Patriots, who play in the Association of Independent Schools B Conference, mightknock off all of the county schools on their schedule en route to the AIS tournament title in May.
Each of these contenders has strongindividual talent who will have a lot to do with which team emerges at the top six weeks from now. Here's a look at the 10 players with potential to make the greatest effect on the league.
* Elise Andrews (senior, defense, Fallston) -- This third-year starter is the Cougars' transition game. With a lot of inexperience around her, Andrews will be the main midfield connector. A solid defender at third man, she can run like a second center for the Cougars. Her speed helps her get the ball out of the defensive end quickly, and she can also take the ball down and score.
* Ann Coale (senior, defense, John Carroll) -- The quarterback of a strong defense for the Patriots this year, Coale has fine stickwork, quick feet and a veteran's game sense. She plays excellent close defense, rarely making a mistake on deciding when to gamble on the double-team and when to stick with her player.
* Chrissy Fellona (senior, attack, Joppatowne) -- Fellona is half ofwhat may be the best one-two punch in the county, along with teammate Michele Zaledonis. Smart and fast with excellent stickwork, her game is solid in every aspect, and she can be as lethal from the left asthe right. Last year, Fellona scored 38 goals and had 20 assists.
* Heather Heitz (senior, at tack, Bel Air) -- Harford County's leading scorer last year with 53 goals and nine assists, Heitz was also one of the top scorers in the metro area. Patient and game-smart with astong move to goal, Heitz is willing to carry the load, but remains team-oriented. After working hard to give her shot the same kind of punch from both the left and right, this first or second home will be the No. 1 problem for the county's defenders.
* Cindy Jenkins (sophomore, attack, Fallston) -- The best set-up player in the league, Jenkins is already a veteran despite being the youngest player in the top 10. With a keen eye for cutters, Jenkins has great anticipation and makes smart passes. She controls the ball well and can play a home position or attack wing. Jenkins also has excellent defensive skills.
* Meredith Peters (senior, attack, C. Milton Wright) -- The top-scoring threat for the Mustangs, Peters is a three-year veteran. At second home, Peters uses her refined stickwork to set up scoring opportunities for herself and teammates. Despite her individual strengths, Peters is such an unselfish player that she will be just one part of an otherwise balanced Mustang attack.
* Tammy Kloiber (junior, goal, Fallston) -- A goalie for all seasons, Kloiber has anticipation and reflexes unmatched in the county. One of the Cougars' best athletes, she is a natural at the position. Aggressive and unafraid, Kloiber can come out to challenge one-on-one or protect the nets against a close passing game.
* Kelly MacNeill (senior, midfield, C. Milton Wright) -- A workhorse at center, MacNeill can run all day, play strongdefense and score goals. She scarfs up ground balls and provides reliable midfield connections. Her stickwork is excellent, and she's very quick off the draw. MacNeill has both the speed and the endurance to dominate the midfield.
* Ledys Valle (senior, defense, Bel Air) -- At third man or cover point, Valle should be the league's premier deep defender. Aggressive but controlled, Valle keeps her stick in check and plays defense with her feet. Her speed and quick feet keep Valle right with her player. Valle also knows when to gamble and leave her player to double-team and when to stick with her charge.
* Michele Zaledonis (senior, attack, Joppatowne) -- The biggest gun in theMariners' strong attack, Zaledonis was the county's No. 2 scorer last year with 48 goals. A powerful shooter with an explosive move to goal, Zaledonis has a solid all-around game. Her stickwork is excellent. She can catch and shoot in a flash.