Around The Area

Girls Soccer

September 02, 2004

Anne Arundel Co.

Severna Park captured another county title and went on to win its second straight 3A crown last fall, leaving the Falcons as the clear front-runners going into this season.

As for the rest of the field, questions arise: Can always-tough South River, upset by Chesapeake in the regular season to miss out on last year's county championship game, make up for lost time? Will the aforementioned Cougars return enough skill and speed to stay in last year's lofty company? What other team can provide a surprise?

Broadneck, under new coach John Camm, has high expectations, while Arundel will field a young team that can't be overlooked.

Baltimore City

Western, Poly and City have dominated the city public school scene for years, but this season features a new contender in the five-team field - Patterson.

The Clippers return nine starters from the city's most improved team in 2003. With good balance and more experience, the Clippers could be ready to make their move this fall.

Nobody is counting out defending champ Western, which returns six starters. Poly also has a solid returning group and good balance up and down the field. City, with a revolving door of coaches over the past few years, struggled last season. Digital Harbor will field its first team.

Baltimore County

The competition could get tougher this season, but defending county champ Eastern Tech remains the favorite. The Mavericks return a host of talented players and add more depth.

On the Class 2A-1A side, defending state Class 1A champ Loch Raven figures to give the Mavericks their best test. Hereford could also be in the mix.

An even closer race is shaping up in the Class 4A-3A Division. Last year's winner Perry Hall, the 4A state runner-up, is young and may fall off the pace, but Kenwood is waiting in the wings. The upstart Bluebirds saw their title chances dashed by a series of injuries and a veteran Perry Hall squad.

Carroll County

Two-time defending state champion Century may not be the powerhouse of years past, but the Knights still should be the team to beat in the county.

Gone are Lauren Schwarzmann and Kelly Kasper, the county's past two players of the year, but the Knights should still boast a powerful defense.

Another team to watch is Westminster. The Owls, who finished 8-5-1 and advanced to the regional final, won't have a problem scoring goals and return first-team All-County goalie Kristin Greene.

Despite winning just four of 15 games a year ago, Winters Mill should be vastly improved after returning all of its key players.

Harford County

The Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference comes into play this season with two, seven-team divisions - Chesapeake and Susquehanna - featuring schools from Harford and Cecil counties.

The Chesapeake Division is loaded, with C. Milton Wright and Fallston at the top of the list, Bel Air not far behind and North Harford also in the mix.

The Mustangs went 7-0 in the county in the regular season last fall - closing with a 5-1 win over Fallston. But the Cougars avenged the loss with a 2-0 win in the region playoffs.

Team speed will again be C. M. Wright's top asset, while Fallston counters with a mix of experience and young talent.

Howard County

Centennial appears to be poised to claim its first county title since 1996. The Eagles graduated three starters from a squad that went 9-3-2 en route to a berth in the Class 3A East region semifinals.

Glenelg had four starters graduate, but the Gladiators (14-3-1) return a wealth of experience in their midfield and forward lines.

River Hill has claimed five of the past eight county crowns, but rebuilding the defense will be key for the Hawks (14-2-1).

Wilde Lake emerged from nowhere to post an 11-5 record, but the Wildecats won't surprise anyone this season.

Private schools

John Carroll is the clear favorite in the well-stocked Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference.

However, there are a handful of teams capable of putting together a memorable season.

After a 5-4 overtime loss to Notre Dame Prep in last year's championship game, the Patriots have added incentive to take the next step. The defending champion Blazers will certainly have a say, with McDonogh another proven threat.

In the B Conference, Friends, Severn and Park, which moves up after three straight C Conference crowns, will give champ St. John's-Prospect Hall a challenge. The C Conference is wide open.

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