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September 04, 2001

Anne Arundel County

The faces may change, but the ingredients are there for Severna Park to capture its 23rd county championship in 24 seasons.

The Falcons averaged more than four goals a game en route to their fourth straight state title and eighth in nine years last season.

Class 3A state champ South River split two games with Severna Park last season, but has to fill the gap left by the graduation of six starters.

Broadneck and Chesapeake graduated eight and nine players, respectively, but return a wealth of experience on defense.

Two dark-horse candidates may be North County and Annapolis, which returns eight starters from last season's squad and had more success scoring goals in several preseason scrimmages last month.

North County boasts a dangerous frontline led by senior attack Brooke Nowell, the team's leading scorer last year, but will have to replace seven starters in the midfield, defense, and cage.

Baltimore County

The skirmish for Baltimore County supremacy could be as close as last season's Class 2A North regional championship - a hotly contested battle that Hereford won, 1-0, over Towson in overtime.

The Bulls went on to the state final. The Generals have been thinking about it ever since.

The Bulls and the Generals each graduated four seniors and return a balanced contingent of veterans, including their goalies.

Dulaney, which shared the county title with Catonsville a year ago and returns 10 players, could break up the Bulls-Generals party. Loch Raven could also be poised to make a move.

In the weaker Mallard Division, defending champ Kenwood moved up, leaving Owings Mills, Dundalk and perhaps Eastern Tech to fight it out for the division crown.

Carroll County

A year after advancing to the Class 4A state semifinals, Westminster again looks to be the team to beat. The Owls return three first-team and four second-team all-county selections, including possibly the county's best goalie in Emily Chamelin.

Francis Scott Key, which won 10 games and advanced to the regional semifinals, returns just three starters after graduating seven. The Eagles, however, seem to have adequately filled their holes with a strong group of junior varsity call-ups.

At North Carroll, where the Panthers won twice as many as they lost last season, four starters return, and they will be augmented by role players and JV call-ups. The key, said coach Denean Koontz, will be the young players gaining confidence early on. Liberty and South Carroll look to improve from last season.

Harford County

Last season's co-champs, C. Milton Wright and Bel Air, figure to be right back in the money, as does Fallston.

All three suffered critical losses to graduation but each returns enough players across the field for a solid foundation. All three teams have had a tendency to reload quickly and it should be no different this season.

Carla Harward's Mustangs bring back their entire offense, but have rebuilding to do defensively. At Bel Air, Phyllis Hemmes' Bobcats also return a proven attack and have capable players to fill the defensive holes.

Fallson coach Alice Puckett is the only one to return a goalie and her other five returnees are spread around the field.

Two other teams that could have a say in who takes the county title are North Harford and Edgewood.

Howard County

Centennial, Mount Hebron, Long Reach, River Hill and Hammond are all in the running.

County runner-up Centennial graduated some standouts but returns several veterans who should meld well with speedy players coming up from an undefeated junior varsity.

River Hill may have the most talented returning bunch, including two Team Maryland players, forward Erika Hydrowski and center-midfielder Shannon Goans. Mount Hebron (8-2) returns eight starters.

Long Reach finished third in the county last season and must rebuild its defense, but it has seven returning starters, led by Team Maryland midfielder Sherry Epperson and goalkeeper Jessica Robertson. Hammond is rebuilding its offense but returns six starters. Defending county champ Glenelg is rebuilding.

Private schools

The Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference could come to another showdown between neighborhood rivals Bryn Mawr and Roland Park, but Park just might have something to say about that.

The upstart team in the league a year ago, Park did not lose a game during the regular season and coach Barb Purkey returns a veteran squad.

Bryn Mawr lost its top guns but returns 12 players, while Roland Park matches the Mawrtians with seven returning starters.

St. Paul's brings back five starters and should also contend along with Notre Dame Prep and Severn.

In the B Conference, defending champ Glenelg Country School graduated just four seniors and appears primed to repeat. Seton Keough and Oldfields also could be in the hunt.

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