Severna Park's Falcons have ruled the state soccer roost since 1988. Now, "the vultures are circling," said coach Joyce Stefancik. "This year, they're circling lower and lower."
Severna Park has enjoyed a three-year, 47-0-1 streak that includes the last 40 wins in a row, a 229-16 goals-against advantage and three straight state 3A/4A titles.
But the Falcons' soccer fortress seems besieged on all fronts. Stefancik must replace goalie Tami Riley, The Sun's 1990 Player of the Year, and fellow first-team All-Metro picks Tina Riley and Betsy Anderson, the team's leading scorer, to name a few.
Old Mill coach Bruce Sponsler, who won two straight state titles before Severna Park's streak began, sounds a note of caution: "They lose plenty of players; they just never lose any games," he said.
But Sponsler is gearing his own talent-laden Patriots, who include sophomore striker Michelle Salmon, for a strong run at Stefancik and company.
Veteran teams at Broadneck , Chesapeake and Meade also figure to contend in Anne Arundel County.
Howard County would love to end Anne Arundel's six-year reign (Broadneck won in 1985), but perhaps only Centennial has the required firepower in Class 3A/4A, as state finalist Oakland Mills endures something of a down year.
First-year Eagles coach Rick Pizarro (formerly of Woodlawn) inherits a potent one-two punch in junior strikers Kelly Butler and Vicky Brunt, who combined for 32 goals last year.
This does not mean that Centennial is the best of Howard County. At Class 2A Hammond, coach Dave Gettler anticipates "the best team this school has ever had.
" Wilde Lake has been inconsistent in preseason, but has several key returnees led by striker Renita Young.
A veteran Perry Hall entry has all of its starters back and shapes up as the class of Baltimore County, although Patapsco , Franklin and Dulaney are all capable.
C. Milton Wright, hit heavily by graduation, hopes to again emerge as the best of Harford County.
Players to watch
Player .School ..Year. . P
Samantha Andersch, Hammond ;.Jr.; F
Heidi Bender, Loch Raven; Sr.; M
Carrie Budzinski, Sev. Park; Soph.; D
Kelly Butler, Centennial Jr. F
Nicki Cecere, Severna Park; Sr.; F
Robyn DePasquale, Mercy Sr. M
Jill Fennekohl, Perry Hall; Sr.; F
Dawn Frederick, Broadneck; Sr.; M
Krista Fulton, Howard; Sr.; G
Randall Goldsborough, St. Mary's; Sr.; F
Tonya Kolodziejeski, N. County; Sr.; M
Danette Lemerise, Oak. Mills ;Sr. ;F
Mo McDonough, St. Mary's; Jr.; F
Michele Palguta, Franklin; Sr.; M
Lisa Renz, Towson; Jr.; M
Jackie Rieschick, Hammond; Sr.; D
Danielle Rivas, C.M. Wright; Sr.; G
Michelle Salmon, Old Mill; Soph.; F
Allison Schroeder, McDonogh; So.; M
Amanda Simmons, Meade; Sr.; F
Thori Staples, Joppatowne; Sr.; F
Becky Thiele, Chesapeake-AA; Sr.; F
Amity Torbit, John Carroll; Jr.; F
Teresa Wrzosek, Patapsco; Sr.; G
Renita Young, Wilde Lake; Sr.; F