Around The Area

Field Hockey

September 02, 2004

Anne Arundel Co.

Again, to nobody's surprise, every team is looking up to Severna Park, which won its 14th state title in last year's 18-1 season.

The 3A champ Falcons' one loss came against South River during the regular season, but they avenged it in the county championship game, where they're 9-for-9.

The Seahawks lost some quality players from last year's 4A state semifinalist team, but the program has proved itself stable enough to remain strong contenders with an influx of talent available.

Meade, 12-5 with a playoff win over Broadneck last season, has worked its way among the top tier with 10 starters back. Two years removed from a state title, the Bruins remain a factor with a young group that will lean on its offense.

Baltimore County

The county championship comes with a bonus this season -- the chance to play on turf under the lights at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.

That's providing plenty of incentive for some of the county's perennial best. Defending champion Hereford should have no trouble winning the county's Class 2A-1A Division, while last season's runner-up, Dulaney, likely will face a battle from Towson in the 4A-3A Division.

The Bulls, who beat Dulaney, 3-0, in the title game a year ago, return seven starters and will be the team to beat.

Dulaney fields a young team after graduating eight starters. That may give the Generals an opening. Despite returning only three starters, Towson elevates a solid contingent from a strong junior varsity team.

Carroll County

South Carroll again will be the team to beat this season, having a good shot to make the state final four for a third straight year. The Cavaliers won the Class 3A state title two years ago and lost in the Class 2A state semifinals last year (in a shootout against Hereford).

The good news is scoring star Liz Fries returns after spending a year in Germany on an exchange program and brings talented student Ela Tarlon with her for the season. Both play on an Elite Club team and give South Carroll (15-3 last year) one of the state's best offenses.

Francis Scott Key went from under .500 to 9-4 last year, and although the Eagles lost some players, they still have plenty of talent. North Carroll is rebuilding, but junior midfielder Mandy Pickard should lead the way.

Harford County

Fallston has won 17 county titles in Alice Puckett's 21 years as head coach, including the past three, but the Cougars have a new goal to shoot for - winning the highly competitive Chesapeake Division of the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference.

The Cougars still will face top county foes C. Milton Wright, North Harford and Bel Air, but also Cecil County's best: Rising Sun, North East and Elkton.

The Cougars are young and C. Milton Wright and North Harford could be poised to take advantage. The early front-runner, however, is Rising Sun, the defending Class 2A state champ.

In the Susquehanna Division, Edgewood and Joppatowne appear to have an edge on Aberdeen, Harford Tech, Havre de Grace, Bohemia Manor and Perryville.

Howard County

Defending county champ Glenelg returns four first-team All-County players and one second-team player, and that talent makes the Gladiators the team to beat for a county title.

Glenelg won a Class 2A regional title last season, but lost in the state semifinals to Rising Sun.

Howard County Player of the Year Jenn Cochran, Terri Coover, Amanda Yanulevich, Katy Narron and Bailey Sheridan are the Gladiators' returning All-County players.

Mount Hebron, Long Reach and Centennial all will field competitive teams behind Glenelg, but all will likely have a better shot at winning a Class 3A regional title than a county championship.

Private schools

Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland teams finally can play overtime during the regular season. The addition of one seven-minute, seven-on-seven extra period should cut down on the large number of ties, especially as realignment results in even more parity.

St. Paul's returns as the A Conference favorite, coming off an outright title after sharing the previous two. Bryn Mawr and Notre Dame Prep appear most likely to challenge the Gators in a tight race.

Five teams down from the A will push four-time defending champ Glenelg Country in the B Conference. Friends, which tied the Dragons last season, has the best chance to end their run.

The new C Conference is up for grabs with last season's B Conference runner-up Oldfields the likely front-runner.

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