Preseason Top 15

March 23, 1995

1 Mount Hebron -- Coach P.J. Kesmodel plans to retire after this season and the Vikings plan to wrap up a fourth straight state title for his parting gift. With a veteran squad full of seniors, the four-time defending Howard County champs have plenty of strength to do it. Even though they lost All-Metro Player of the Year Cathy Nelson (78 goals, 43 assists) from last year's 16-2 squad, the Vikings still return a potent attack led by All-Metro second-teamers Dani Vissers (73, 34) and Erin McGinnis (52, 13). However, the difference this year will be in the defense. After starting out slowly last year, the Vikings developed into a tight defensive unit led by Julie Kickham, Amanda Fleck and Katie Marks.

2 Loch Raven -- See capsule.

3 Roland Park -- See capsule.

4 Mount de Sales -- See capsule.

5 Severna Park -- For the first time in the five-year history of the state championships, the Falcons did not win the Class 3A-4A title last year. Despite being one of the best teams coach Carin Peterson had ever fielded, the Falcons fell to Annapolis, 6-5, in the regional final to finish 13-1. Almost all the big names are gone from last year's squad, including All-Metro midfielder Erin Wylde, but the Falcons still have one of the most balanced, skilled teams around. Most of the talent returns in the midfield anchored seniors Diane Mooney, Melissa Ballance and Michelle Rose. Also back are goalies Kathy Stott and Shannon Chaney, who split time last year and allowed fewer than three goals a game between them.

6 Annapolis -- The Panthers enjoyed their most successful season ever last year with a regional victory over rival Severna Park and an appearance in the state Class 3A-4A championship game where they lost to Mount Hebron, 16-9. Even though they graduated All-Metro attacker Cristi Samaras (78 goals, 38 assists) and second-team goalie Kate Brew, the Panthers return eight starters, including second-teamer defender Stephy Samaras, midfielder Amy Brew (24, nine) and attacker Karen Hunt (44, 16). Coach Dave Gehrdes' 15-2 squad has rebuilding to do on defense, but it has the talent to fill in quickly.

7 Liberty -- The Lions, who finished 16-2, reached the Class 1A-2A state title game for the first time last season. Although they lost to Loch Raven, 19-7, in the final, the five-time Carroll County champions might have laid down a foundation for a return trip. They lost six seniors, including three who combined for 190 goals and 92 assists, but coach Courtney Vaughn expects to reload with Debbi Bourke, Amy North and Amie Rose. Much of the defense returns as well including Carey Epler and Natalie Hannibal.

8 Garrison Forest -- See capsule.

9 Bryn Mawr -- See capsule.

10 Fallston -- The Cougars are the only team other than Mount Hebron, Loch Raven and Severna Park to qualify for the state tournament all five years. Last year, they made their best stand yet, falling to Loch Raven 11-10 in the semifinal. The Cougars return a host of talent from that 12-2 team including attackers Jenny Weber, Krissy Battenfeld, Julie Haire and Kathleen Turk and defenders Courtney Benner and Jinae Szerensits.

11 Broadneck -- The defense took a big hit to graduation, but five solid starters return from an 11-4 team that lost to Annapolis, 11-5, in the regional final. The Bruins return a strong contingent on attack and in the midfield, including Jessica Hull, Megan DTC Branning, Liz Goodrich and Ann Rodriguez, which should boost goal production. Coach Jennifer Shuck's squad still needs to develop a go-to player on attack, but the Bruins have plenty of talent to remain in contention.

12 Maryvale -- See capsule.

13 Centennial -- Coach Gail Purcell expects this to be a building season for her young team, but even so, the Eagles still should have enough strength to end up no worse than second in Howard County and their region -- both of which include Mount Hebron, the only team the Eagles lost to in last year's 12-2 season. This team already has come together quickly and shown some creativity on attack. They also have a lot of speed in the midfield with Emily Ward, Gina Dinisio and Tania Riismandel.

14 C. Milton Wright -- Kathy Breymaier's defending Harford County champs bring back experience and blazing speed from last year's 11-4 state Class 3A-4A semifinalist team. Among those back are speedy midfielders Becky Gerhart, who led Harford County with 42 goals, and Miranda James as well as goalie Kim Kalista. The Mustangs have a two-year winning streak in Harford County league play and have beaten Fallston for the county title two years in a row.

15 Arundel -- The Wildcats are coming off their first trip to the regional playoffs and with nine starters returning coach Christine Fellona's squad could be poised for another trip. Senior Nicole Ross leads a strong midfield contingent that includes returnees Michelle Haynie and Karen Diacont. The Wildcats finished 10-5 last year, but every loss was to a playoff team.

How the poll is chosen: The 1995 girls lacrosse poll is selected each week by the local sports staff through game observations and consultation with coaches.

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