the poll

August 30, 2006

1. Severna Park

Last season: 19-1, ranked No. 1

The Class 3A champion Falcons remain in the top spot and are favored to win a 16th state title. Despite losing the area's top scorer Hayley Rausch (34 goals) to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, they have a prolific line as well as the top goalie in Corinne Manuel.

2. South River

Last season: 16-3-1, No. 2

The two-time defending Class 4A state champions return 18 players in their bid to clip the Severna Park Falcons' wings in Anne Arundel County.

3. Fallston

Last season: 15-5, No. 5

The Class 3A state runner-up and the top team in Harford County returns strength up the middle, depth and speed.

4. Garrison Forest

Last season: 11-5-4, No. 10

After a disappointing end to last season, the well-balanced Grizzlies have the most experienced team in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference.

5. Bryn Mawr

Last season: 11-10-2, unranked

After peaking late in a rebuilding 2005 season, the Mawrtians should come on strong with a quick, highly skilled veteran squad.

6. Broadneck

Last season: 11-3-1, No. 9

Usually known for their offense, the Bruins will rely more on their defense and midfield, and they have the talent to do it.

7. Chesapeake-AA

Last season: 12-4, No. 14

After losing just two starters to graduation, the Cougars have strength and depth all over in aiming for the Anne Arundel apex.

8. Century

Last season: 13-4, No. 7

With nine skilled returning starters, the Knights won't need to rely on one player, spreading the wealth and the rewards.

9. C. Milton Wright

Last season: 13-3-1, No. 15

Three Futures National Championship veterans will help the Mustangs make their move in Harford County.

10. North Carroll

Last season: 14-2, No. 4

The Panthers have potential but may need time to make up for the loss of All-Metro Player of the Year Mandy Pickard and stellar goalie Becca Markle.

11. St. Paul's

Last season: 11-6, No. 11

Injuries kept the Gators from living up to their potential last season, but some young talent should give them a boost.

12. Arch. Spalding

Last season: 12-4-4, No. 8

The Cavaliers graduated 10 players but return seven girls with significant playing time to keep them in the IAAM A Conference title hunt.

13. Glenelg

Last season: 8-5-1, unranked

The Gladiators graduated a pair of key players but should be stronger overall and on the rise in Howard County.

14. Roland Park

Last season: 14-4-3, No. 6

The IAAM A Conference champions experienced a huge turnover but rarely take long to bounce back.

15. Dulaney

Last season: 12-4, unranked

The Lions missed the Baltimore County final in a tiebreaker last season but could make it this year with nine returning starters.

Other teams considered: Hereford (10-4-2, unranked), Mount Hebron (15-2, No. 3), St. Mary's (7-10-2, No. 13), Towson (12-5-1, unranked), Winters Mill (11-3, unranked).

players to watch

Molly Gregoire

South River, midfielder

The generous senior uses her vast skills to set up teammates, especially from the top of the circle -- accumulating 14 assists a year ago.

Amanda Himmelheber

Severna Park, midfielder

Look for a big encore from the versatile Maryland-bound senior. Her eighth goal of the season was the game-winner in the state Class 3A final last season.

Ashley Holofcener

St. Paul's, defender

Perpetual motion puts the senior in the thick of just about everything the Gators do, as she foils the opposition and feeds the attack with equal skill.

Kristen Horsman

Dulaney, midfielder

The four-year starter, who finished with 4 goals and 11 assists, commands the field with her stick skills, ball control and communication.

Corinne Manuel

Severna Park, goalkeeper

The only returning All-Metro first-team pick, the senior had a 90-percent save rate last season, rarely facing much action but always making the big stop.

Phoebe McCarthy

Bryn Mawr, midfielder

A Futures veteran with exceptional stickwork, the senior moves from defense to midfield, where she should quickly emerge as a transition catalyst.

Amy Thompson

Glenelg, forward

Tough to contain and exceptional on the post, the junior scored 15 goals last season, often setting herself up with her smooth carry and dodges.

Kathleen Tress

Fallston, forward

The Cougars' co-leading scorer a year ago with nine goals and six assists, the senior sparks the offense and is difficult to clear the ball past.

Mary Waller

C. Milton Wright, midfielder

A Futures Elite selection this summer, the multi-talented senior had nine goals and eight assists last season but contributes beyond her statistics.

Shannon Watt

Century, midfielder

Moving to center midfield means shouldering more responsibility, a fitting task for the skilled senior who had eight goals and 13 assists on the line last season.

Other notables

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