It has become too easy to predict who will emerge as the No. 1 girls lacrosse program in the county. There's Severna Park, and then everyone else.
No one is more aware of this than Annapolis coach Dave Gehrdes, whose team can't get past the Falcons in the region playoffs. Then again, no one else can, either. Severna Park has won the last four 3A-4A state championships, following three consecutive 4A state/regional titles.
"Severna Park is always the team to beat," Gehrdes said.
The county has four new coaches this season. Patty Dages replaces Susie Goetzke at Glen Burnie, as the Gophers enter their second year of varsity lacrosse competition. Bill Madden takes over for Linda Kilpatrick at Southern, Jennifer Shuck replaces her sister, Leann, at Broadneck, and Michele Rodriguez-Smith moves up from assistant coach at Meade, where she played from 1982-1986.
Coach Dave Gehrdes can look at the number of quality players lost to graduation -- including All-Metro selections Lauren Feinstein (midfield) and Cory Samaras (defense) -- and fret for days. But one peak at this year's roster puts a smile back on his face.
He gladly welcomes back senior attacker Cristi Samaras (49 goals, 38 assists) -- a two-time All-American -- and senior goalkeeper Kate Brew (122 saves). Samaras was a second-team All-Metro choice after leading the county in scoring for a second consecutive year, and Brew made first-team All-County.
And there's more. The defense includes sensational sophomores Amy Brew and Stephy Samaras, and seniors Kara Zimmerman, Kristina Muir and Courtney Hackett.
Also returning are seniors Cheryl Ragland (attack) and Katie Colgrove (attack), juniors Karen Hunt (attack), Dana Curran (attack), Laura Zimmerman (attack) and Erika Knutson (attack), and sophomores Becky Morris (midfield), Ali Krieger (attack) and Kristen Booty (goal). Freshman Kate Bjorke (defense) has been added to the varsity and could make an immediate impact.
"Overall, we just have to be able to work together," said Gehrdes, whose team went 12-2 last year, then lost five starters to graduation. "If we can do as well as last year, or a little better, everyone will be happy."
Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers
Archbishop Spalding lost most of its attack, but has all of its defense returning, and coach Mary Pat Bozel says, "If we hit .500, I'll be happy."
She's happy to have seven seniors back: Emily McManus (attack), Jen Sparks (defense), Shannon Gilligan (defense), Mary Babbington (midfield/defense), Courtney Markowski (attack/midfield), Erin Kilby (defense) and Katie O'Brien (attack). Juniors Kathy Barr (goal) -- a backup last season -- Jami Duffy (midfield) and Cara Tracey (midfield) also return.
Junior Anne Mattison (midfield), sophomores Emilie Frye (midfield) and Gilda Goccola (midfield) and freshman Bridget McGeady (attack) are new to the varsity.
Coach Christine Fellona lost seven players to graduation, "including around four key people." But she hasn't lost hope that Arundel can post another winning record.
In fact, Fellona thinks the Wildcats can do even better. "Last year, we turned some heads," she said. "People looked at us and said, 'Look at Arundel.' This year, some of the eyes will be on us, and the kids realize that and are ready to play."
Fellona has 12 players back: seniors Heather Jones (defense), Lesley Knowles (midfield), Ellen Schmitt (defense), Jackie Deveau (defense), Katie Hanburger (attack) and Barb Muller (midfield), and juniors Kristen Wolff (midfield), Jayme Sroka (defense), Tara Surlis (defense), Nicole Ross (midfield), Michelle Haynie (attack) and Tracey Hall (midfield).
The newcomers include junior Toby Owen (attack), sophomores Katie Miller (goal), Jeni Miller (midfield) and Megan Crouse (midfield), and freshmen Jill Jones (attack), Stacy Garity (goal), Stephanie Remines (attack) and Karen Diacont (midfield). Miller will be the starting goalkeeper, and Jones will "step right in and be a key attacker," Fellona said.
This is Jennifer Shuck's first head-coaching job, and Broadneck isn't a bad place to start.
The Bruins again are considered one of the area's better squads, even without first-team All-County attacker Karen Chesley and second-team All-County attacker Melissa Montalto.
They return senior defender Katy Kemerer, a second-team All-County selection, along with seniors J.K. Schmidt (defense), Daria Kramer (defense), Kathy McCully (defense), Amy Lalekos (defense), Susannah Johnson (midfield), Danielle Meyer (attack) and Deena Alford (attack), and juniors Jessica Hull (defense), Meghan Branning (defense), Liz Goodrich (attack), and Tara Jensen (goal).
Shuck has added junior midfielders Ann Rodriquez and Erin Gorgor and sophomore midfielder Christina Schulstad to the varsity.
Last year, the Bruins went 11-4, losing to Annapolis in the region semifinals.
"We didn't lose too much experience. We should still be pretty strong," said Shuck, a 1986 graduate of Broadneck.