Plenty of room at the top

Turnover: The graduation of most of last season's best players gives others a chance to make a name for themselves.

High School Schools Girls Soccer

September 02, 2005|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

John Carroll forward Allyson Carey mostly kept quiet on the soccer field last season, definitely making sure to listen.

It was understandable.

She was a freshman, pleasantly surprised to have earned a starting spot on the metro area's top-ranked team.

Next to her was senior Ashley Myers, an All-American who had dazzling foot skills and a shot that intimidated goalkeepers.

Behind her in the midfield was another senior, Jamie Zimmerman, who was Harford County's Player of the Year the previous season. Defender Rachel Layer, another senior, was a third standout who earned All-Metro honors.

"I was really nervous at first and also intimidated. I thought they were going to be mean and nasty, but they were very welcoming and really helped me out a lot. They were very supportive and I learned a lot from them," said Carey, who went on to contribute 14 goals as the Patriots won the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship and finished 21-0.

This season, it's Carey's turn to step up.

She's not alone. There are a number of others throughout the area with a chance to distinguish themselves after graduation left plenty of vacancies.

All 12 players from last year's All-Metro first team graduated and nine of the 12 second-team selections also were seniors.

McDonogh coach Maurice Boylan Jr., who saw his standout striker, Brittany Tegeler, move on, didn't hesitate when he declared last year's senior class "the best the Baltimore area has ever had -- without question."

It left a number of questions waiting to be answered this season.

Can John Carroll repeat as IAAM champ after losing all that talent?

How will Class 3A state runner-up Centennial fare without All-American center midfielder Hayley Siegel?

Who will be the standout goalkeepers after the graduation of River Hill's Katy Hudson and Westminster's Kristin Greene?

Can Class 4A state runner-up South River find a player to take over a game like Anne Arundel County Player of the Year Rachel Fry did so many times last season?

And who will make up for all the goals Tegeler scored at McDonogh?

"You know most of the time you can't replace players like that," Boylan said. "But you'll put players in those positions and they'll want to rise to the occasion. It's a prideful thing -- a chance for them to come out of the shadows and carry on the tradition. It's their turn."

Centennial coach Mike Senisi was quick to call Siegel "irreplaceable," but her contribution to the program remains.

"One of the best things about Hayley is how she taught our younger players," Senisi said. "She understands soccer so well and is an educator of the game. The younger players looked up to her and she taught them how to play the game right. Now we need those players to take over."

While Greene was earning Carroll County Player of the Year honors in leading the Owls to the county championship and a trip to the Class 4A state semifinals, backup Erin Will made sure to take notes. Greene was quick to offer tips on diving, distributing and other facets of goalkeeping, but her positive words to Will were just as important. After spending two seasons on junior varsity before backing up Greene last season, Will is excited, a little nervous, but most of all ready to be the Owls' starter this season.

"I think the biggest thing I got from Kristin was to go out and be confident. She tells me I'm good enough to be out there with everybody," Will said.

From a coach's standpoint, a departed player's productivity -- goals, assists, saves, strong midfield play, etc. -- is just one part that needs to be replaced for a team to enjoy continued success.

Notre Dame Prep coach Chris Lopez -- who guided the Blazers to the IAAM title in 2003 behind the stellar play of Metro Player of the Year Zoey Bouchelle and fellow senior standout Kayce Blandford -- found that out last season.

The Blazers enjoyed another solid season, finishing 12-4-1, but didn't have the same zest, with their season ending in the league semifinal round.

"In some ways, the harder part is making up for the attitude your team has when you have standout players like that -- the confidence they bring to the field," he said. "Last year, we were lucky in that we had a very good junior class and senior Beth Koloup coming back, so our holes weren't as big as they could have been. But our swagger wasn't the same as it was and we had some up-and-down games."

This season, it's John Carroll's turn to find a new identity in a bid to stay on top. And it didn't take coach Gary Lynch or his staff long to start planning for it.

"Believe it or not, we started talking about it on the bus ride home after the championship game," said Lynch, who will count on defender Jessica Hnatiuk, midfielder Melissa Gomes and Carey to take on expanded roles. "The coaching staff threw at me every void we would have and the challenge for us now is how we can fill them. I think the girls are really working hard to do that."

Carey is well aware the attention defenses gave to Myers last season will be passed on to her this fall. She's ready and knows it's her time to speak up.

"Nobody's going to be able to fill Ashley's and Jamie's shoes -- they were amazing," Carey said. "But I think if we all work together, we're going to be able to overcome the losses and come together as a team as the season goes on."

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