Odell, Wright set to renew coaching rivalry Two start new era at River Hill, Long Reach

Local Sports: High School Girls Soccer Preview

September 01, 1996|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Cynthia Odell teaches Spanish at Wilde Lake Middle School. One of her students is Steven Wright.

Steven's father is Dick Wright, the girls soccer coach at Long Reach.

Odell coaches the girls' team at River Hill.

"That parent-teacher conference should be very interesting," said Odell.

There's more.

In the early 1980s, the biggest rivalry in girls soccer was Wilde Lake against Oakland Mills. Wright coached Wilde Lake; Odell at Oakland Mills. Wright's top player was Joany Kelso, a sweeper who, in 1984, was named an All-American.

"When we played against Wilde Lake, we always had to figure a way to get around Joany," Odell said.

Not anymore.

Kelso, now Joany Kelso Smedley, is Odell's junior varsity coach at River Hill.

Small world, huh?

Wright, who coached Wilde Lake from 1980 to 1984, and Odell, who coached Oakland Mills from 1979 to 1990, won't be the only new faces on the sidelines this season. Four schools have new coaches, although their names certainly are familiar.

Wendell Thomas has replaced Warren Michael at Atholton. Thomas began the boys soccer program at Atholton 20 years ago and last year coached the boys junior varsity.

Michael and Mike Senisi are co-coaches at Centennial, replacing Dave Greenberg and Kevin Flynn. Senisi coached the Eagles' junior varsity the last two seasons.

Dave Guetler resigned last year after eight seasons and two state titles at Hammond, and now coaches at Howard where he teaches. Guetler replaced Dave Vezzi.

Ken Zachmann, who has coached the girls junior varsity at Hammond the past 10 years, has replaced Guetler. Centennial's game at Hammond Oct. 17 is noteworthy because Zachmann's daughter, Mandy, is a starting marking back for the Eagles.

Another change this season involves state playoffs. Instead of awarding two state titles (2A/1A and 4A/3A) as in the past, the state now has three classifications: 4A/3A, 3A/2A and 2A/1A.

Howard County has six schools in the 3A/2A class: Atholton, Centennial and Wilde Lake in the West region and Howard, Mount Hebron and Oakland Mills in the North.

Glenelg, Hammond, Long Reach and River Hill are in the 2A/1A South region.

Centennial again will be the team to beat in the county, and has the talent to win its third straight state championship and fourth in the past five years. The Eagles did lose some key personnel, including goalie Rima Sidhu, backs Tania Riismandel and Gina Dinisio and forward Michelle Clare (nine goals), but still have arguably the best player in the state in Lauren Molinaro.

Twice county Player of the Year and a two-time All-Metro, Molinaro has tremendous skills and knowledge of the game and makes everyone around her -- except the opposition -- look better.

"She brings the team together," said Senisi. "She makes everyone contribute."

Molinaro, a member of the under-16 national team, scored 10 goals last year, but her real value is how she controls the middle. She sees the entire field and distributes the ball beautifully.

Centennial has a well-balanced mix, with five seniors, six juniors, six sophomores and three freshmen. It's biggest question mark is goalie, where Sidhu was a two-time all-county performer.

Competing for the spot are Danielle Martin, last year's junior varsity starter, and Liz Fisher, the varsity backup last year.

Senisi said that Martin has the edge now.

"She just needs the confidence," Senisi said. "But we have a strong defense ahead of her."

Wilde Lake could give Centennial it's toughest in-county test. The Wildecats have the best returning scoring line with junior Amanda Berman (13 goals, nine assists), and sophomore Leilani Ho (10 goals, five assists). The Wildecats finished second in the county last year, its only loss a 1-0 setback against Centennial.

It won't take long to see which team is playing well early. Centennial plays host to Wilde Lake on Sept. 27, the first day of league play.

River Hill and Long Reach scrimmage Wednesday at River Hill, then meet for real on Oct. 23, the last day of the regular season. Both Wright and Odell are looking forward to it.

"I hope Long Reach establishes River Hill as its traditional rival," Wright said.

Preseason poll

1. Centennial

2. Severna Park

3. Loch Raven

4. Hereford

5. McDonogh

6. St. Mary's

7. Fallston

8. Catholic

9. South Carroll

10. Old Mill

11. Liberty

12. Dulaney

13. John Carroll

14. Arundel

15. Wilde Lake

Pub Date: 9/01/96

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