1997 record: 4-9-1
Coach: Tom Cordts
Top players: Becca McDevitt, Sr., D; Beth Hemminger, Sr., M; Christine Hemminger, Sr., F; Kristy Dirks, So., F; Julie Smith, Sr., D; Robyn Mincher, Sr., D; Lauren Mincher, Sr., D; Allie O'Neill, Sr., M.
Outlook: The Panthers, winless two years ago but with four victories last fall, are working hard on making another step toward respectability with a good nucleus returning. Scoring has been the primary concern, but Cordts believes Smith and Dirks may provide the answers. The Panthers plan to get the most out of midfield depth by rotating six players. "We'll have them in for 15- to 20-minute shifts and look for a high work rate. We want to keep the pressure on and try to maintain possession," said Cordts. McDevitt keys the defense at stopper.
Annapolis Area Christian Eagles
1997 record: 10-8-1
Coach: Paul Brophy
Top players: Jessi Seep, Sr., G; Amy Hendricks, Jr., F; Stephanie Cole, Sr., D; Sarah McClellan, Sr., M; Jen Anderson, Sr., F; Joanna Chino, Sr., D; Ashley Finecey, So., D.
Outlook: The Eagles finished strong to capture the inaugural Tri-State Soccer League championship last season. Seep and Hendricks, who shared league Player of the Year honors last fall, and eight other starters are back to chase another crown. Seep turned back 175 of the 200 shots that came her way in goal, and Hendricks did most of the damage up front with 10 goals and nine assists. "Jessi is fearless, and there's not much worry with her back there. Amy picked up experience, and we expect her to finish a little better," said Brophy. The Eagles have two other regulars back, and five newcomers to add youthful depth. Cole is a mainstay at stopper, and Finecey switches from striker to sweeper. McClellan's ball skills anchor the midfield.
Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers
1997 record: 4-11-1
Coach: Bob Greeno
Players: Amy Campion, Sr., M; Yasmin Alter, Jr., G; Carolyn Petrovick, Sr., D; Katie Linden, Sr., M; Megan Dubina, Jr., F; Kellie Schiavone, Jr., D; Rachel Tansey, Jr., D.
Outlook: First-year coach Greeno brings 20 years of coaching experience and a fresh new approach. The Cavaliers were plenty busy in the preseason, practicing twice a day with the emphasis on conditioning and basic skills. "We're taking it one step at a time, and the first thing is to make them believe," said Greeno, former president of the Bowie Soccer United program. In the middle will be Campion, who provides a lot of everything at center midfield. "She commands the field, has her head up a lot, and is a good leader," said Greeno. Linden joins Campion at midfield with Dubina looking to finish at striker. The defense is sound with Alter in goal and reliable defenders in Petrovick at sweeper and Tansey at stopper.
1997 record: 11-4-2
Coach: Tom Degner
Top players: Kelly Jordan, Sr., F; Becky Beardsley, Sr., M; Becky Carlson, Sr., M/F; Abria Queen, Jr., F; Erin Hartman, Sr., G; Kristan Blunt, Jr., D; Rachel Moreland, Fr., A; Jill Marcum, Jr., F; Liz Casey, Sr., D.
Outlook: To find a better offensive trio in the county than Jordan, Beardsley and Carlson would be difficult. Jordan scored 18 goals and added 13 assists to earn first-team All-Metro honors for a second straight season. Carlson provided eight goals and five assists. Beardsley brings splendid imagination to the midfield. The three standouts have played big roles in carrying the Wildcats to the state championship game in 1996 and the region final last fall. With another strong supporting cast, they'll make one last state championship run. "Our one goal is to play successfully -- play good soccer with everyone on the same page. There has to be harmony, and everyone has to believe in themselves," said Degner, who called Jordan the team's "heart and soul." Beardsley is the team's motor with her ability to distribute, and Carlson brings intensity and finishing ability. Queen can provide scoring. Blunt and Casey help take care of business at the defensive end.
1997 record: 1-10-3
Coach: Jennifer Sweeney
Top players: M.J. Pruner, Sr., D; Meg McFall, Jr., M; Rachel Shuck, Jr., M; Michelle McGrath, Sr., G; Lori Southard, Sr., G; Lacy Barry, Jr., F