With a slew of formidable goalies, area teams are looking for ways to make big stops count in their quest for success.
Bryn Mawr, Notre Dame Prep, Roland Park Country School, St. Paul's School for Girls and Maryvale Prep have good chances to hold rivals in check in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference while Friends and Lutheran will take a similar tack in the B and C conferences, respectively.
Meanwhile, Loch Raven, Towson and Dulaney have a similar mind-set.
Look below to see which team could prevent the most goals this season.
2011 record: 16-3
Coach Wendy Kridel's quote: "We will have to find a way to replace Morgan Rubin's incredible scoring power and Sam McGee's hustle in the midfield, but we have a very balanced team with good depth."
Breakdown: Although the Mawrtians will miss their top midfield tandem — who have combined for seven goals and three assists for the University of North Carolina this spring — from last year's squad, there's plenty of talent to keep the Mawrtians in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference hunt.
They can make good things happen all over the field with seniors Nancy Dunbar (Northwestern), Kassandra Bowling (Georgetown) and Josie George (Hopkins) and junior Kate Snouffer (Georgetown) running in the midfield and senior Kate Walker (Yale) leading juniors Caroline Joy and Eliza Clemens (Vanderbilt) on the backline in front of superb senior goalie Molly Wolf (Loyola University Maryland).
Up front, seniors Caroline Turco (Hopkins) and Erica Matz (Hopkins) know how to find the back of the net.
"Our defense was very young and inexperienced last year and we hope that a much improved defensive unit in front of Molly, will help us win some tight games," Kridel said, whose team's three losses in 2011 were by a combined four goals.
2011 record: 14-3-1
Coach Kristi Korrow's quote: "I think the strength of our team is going to lie in our senior leadership."
Breakdown: The Lions have 12 seniors back from last year's regional finalists and Korrow likes their work ethic.
"They are hungry to get on the field," she said.
Senior goalie Julianne Elmer, who will be backed up by junior Caroline Meegan, anchors a defense that includes seniors Natalie Crawford, Sam Thiebeault and Nicole Fegler and junior Kaeli O'Connor.
The midfield is loaded with veteran leadership in seniors Cara Henning, Alex Calder, Kenzie Brown, Sarah Del Vene and Summer Wassel.
Some of them may rotate into the attack along with seniors Katie Russo, Melissa Webster and Shannon McKew.
With 26 players on the roster, Korrow will also have several underclassmen chomping at the bit for playing time.
"We've got some up and coming players and I'm excited about them coming up to varsity," Korrow said.
2011 record: 15-4
Coach Mandy Hudson's quote: "I feel we are in a great position. We are very experienced. We only graduated one (starter)."
Breakdown: If all goes well for the Quakers this spring, they could be hoisting a championship trophy for a second time in three years.
Friends is that good, what with 10 starters returning from a squad that bowed to Mercy in the B Conference final last year.
Hudson, a second-year coach, is comfortable with the notion that her Quakers might be the team to beat this year.
"I would feel like Friends is the school everybody is going to compete with — and run with — during the course of the year," Hudson said. "We realize that. But at the same time, we know we have grown up a lot and are playing a very clean game right now. That's something we are taking a lot of pride in."
Midfield is probably the strongest area for Friends with seniors Ella Cooper (Virginia), Emma Sissman (Davidson College), Claire McGagh (St. Mary's College) and sophomore Abby Corkman all returning.
"It's a strong midfield, but each of them bring their own gifts to balance out the team nicely," Hudson said.
The midfield will be working with an attack highlighted by solid seniors Rachel Bolan, Lucy Klein and Sarah Wallack.
Hudson is also counting on an outstanding defense led by senior Caroline Bogrov and sophomores Mackenzie Gerrity and Izzy Blalock to lead the Quakers to another big year in front of sophomore goalie Rose Woolson.
"We are playing smart and patient defense," Hudson said. "We are forcing teams into tough situations and wanting to take advantage of mistakes or miscues."
2011 record: 12-6
Coach Tracy Hanley's quote: "We are picking up where we left off last year, rather than going over stuff with a lot of new players. The core of the team are kids who know the offense and defense."
Breakdown: Loch Raven ended last season the same way the Raiders did the previous year: They lost badly to Winters Mill, of Carroll County in the Class 2A-1A state championship game.
The Raiders — boasting eight returning starters — certainly have the talent to reach the state final again.
Besides being Hanley's most experienced team in three years, the 2012 Raiders are also her deepest squad.
"We have that added depth that we need," said Hanley, who has compiled a 31-17 record. "We have a lot more versatility on the field than past years. We have players that play anywhere."
The Raiders figure to score plenty of goals with seniors Taylor Sartor and Maggie Wagner and junior Meredith Moore returning to the starting lineup at attack.
Both Wagner and Sartor will play lacrosse at St. Mary's College of Maryland next season while Moore finished second in team scoring last year with 22 goals and 20 assists. Wagner chipped in 15 goals.
The midfield, anchored by seniors Christie Moyer, junior Meredith House and Sammie Knapp, will feed that quality frontline.
There are more questions about the defense, since junior Allison Farrell is the only starter back.
In goal, junior Kelly Bilz and senior Nova Sallen are vying for playing time after the graduation of Leanne Bittner.
"They are very determined to fill the gap Leanne left," Hanley said. "We have solid kids to work with and they are extremely coachable."
Four newcomers to the varsity — sophomores Emma Norman and Jordan Krasauskas and freshmen Lindsey Farrell and Lindsey Wagner — are expected to fill key roles.
2011 record: 16-0
Coach Christina Martin's quote: "It's a drastically different team than last year. I think we face some new challenges since we are a younger team."
Breadown: The Saints lost a ton of talent to graduation and might be hard-pressed to return to the IAAM C Conference championship game.
Lutheran, however, figure to have one of the top midfields in the league with seniors Mackenize Moore, Amy Brown and Valerie Fuller returning.
"The midfield is definitely our strength," Martin said. "They make a lot of positive plays. They are really good at hustling back on defense to start the transition game."
The defense in front of goalie senior Elizabeth Bott may take some time to develop into a cohesive unit. The Saints graduated standouts Brittany Lanahan and Chandler Class so Martin from attack to the backline to help fill a hole.
On top of that, senior Tereza Roros (knee) and sophomore Delaney Class (back) are each coming of surgery.
They're expected to both be back to top form in early to mid April.
Martin hopes three attackers - sophomore sisters Savannah and Lindsey Chamberlain and sophomore Allison Gerry - develop into big-time players with the departure of last year's leading scorer, Juliia Eshmont
"They really came on late last year and made huge progress," Martin said. "I need them to play like upperclassmen this year."
2011 record: 8-8
Coach Jessica Vitrano Randisi's quote: "This could be our year. We've got to go out and show what we've got."
Breakdown: The enthusiasm of a new coach — and Maryvale alum —could help the Lions get over the .500 hump this spring.
And its doesn't hurt to have a pair of midfielders the caliber of University of Florida recruits Sam Darcangelo and Carly Ross.
Junior Kaitlin Moynihan (Navy), a C. Milton Wright transfer, adds to the midfield heft with classmates Taylor Oliver (Florida Southern College) and Amanda Bochniak (Marquette).
Senior Sam Aiello (Gettysburg) will be the go-to attacker, although Darcangelo and Ross should handle much of the scoring.
The defense is also set with seniors Flannery Carney (Yale), Kaylin Ziemba (George Mason), Justine Lago and Madison Oliver (Florida Southern) holding down the fort in front of standout junior goalie Caroline Federico (Hopkins).
The Lions could even play some games on their new turf field — if all goes well — instead of hosting rivals at Meadowood Park.
And that would be a major victory in its own right.
Notre Dame Prep
2011 record: 10-7
Coach Mary Bartel's quote: "We should be much better by the end of the year than we will be in the beginning, but we have some really nice players."
Breakdown: University of Notre Dame recruits Danielle Lukish and Hannah Hartman bolster the midfield with senior classmates Danielle Seifert (Vermont) and Sarah Kasun (Denver), whose quickness and savvy in the backcourt were key for the Blazers' basketball squad this winter.
The defense is similarly in good hands, considering Kirsti Paavola (Hopkins) and Elise Liberto will lend their support in front of fellow senior Mary Sean Wilcox (Florida) in the goal.
Last spring, the Blazers lost four one-goal games, which is why there's such optimism for their chances to improve with just a little more scoring punch, more efficiency in the defensive end or a little of both.
That said, NDP averaged 15.5 goals per game against every rival except three-time defending IAAM A Conference champ McDonogh, which held the Blazers to a combined 13 goals in two meetings last spring.
2011 record: 15-6
Coach Kristin Nicolini's quote: "We have some big holes to fill, but I think we're up to the challenge."
Breakdown: Last year's strong senior class — Caroline Seats, Madison Formwalt, Daniela Eppler, Meggie Ramzy and Mattie Meredith — carried the Reds all the way to the conference championship game.
Even without them, though, Nicolini and her sister and co-coach Reagan Ranieri have a good group returning to the fold, including senior attackers Jenna Reifler (Hopkins) and Betsy Angel (James Madison) and sophomore running mate Cece Finney.
Senior Audrey Todd (Harvard) leads the midfield with junior sidekick Emma Guarino also making waves.
Tri-captain (with Todd and Reifler) Christa Reese anchors the defense with junior Erika Brager.
And that unit will be under pressure to find ways to get more stops after last year's backline allowed a whopping 136 goals in Roland Park's last 10 games, which included a 16-4 rout of Loch Raven.
Still, with such a prolific offense, the Reds have proven they can prevail in high-scoring games.
"We're excited," Nicolini said. "Don't count us out."
2011 record: 11-8
Coach Brooke Kuhl-McClelland's quote: "We're still building on some of the things we implemented last year."
Breakdown: Now in her second year at the helm, Kuhl-McClelland still has some work to do to get the Gators to believe in themselves.
For a start, better defense will help matters.
St. Paul's opened with a loss to Maryvale, which the coach hopes is not a foreshadowing of things to come.
In that outing, the Gators allowed eight of the game's final 10 goals and 16 overall.
They still managed to answer with 10 goals of their own, including a team-high three by junior Shelby Wells.
Seniors Maddy Aldave and juniors Amanda Sutor, Haley McDonnell and Sam Fine also bolstered the offense along with and freshman Julia Braig.
Seniors Kelly and Brooke Boyd (both Virginia), while held scoreless by Maryvale, should also provide firepower down the road with classmate Natalie Chay adding some punch.
Sophomore goalie Carrera Lucas is still learning how to become a top stopper in front of senior Olivia Schneider (Villanova), juniors Ali Braig and Nevi Fernandez and sophomore Cassie Smith.
2011 record: 10-5
Coach Robin Lowe's quote: "I think this might be the youngest team I've coached (in 16 years). We only have one senior. So I think consistency may end up being an issue for us."
Breakdown: It will be quite a challenge to survive the rigors of the IAAM B Conference, though the Bruins are consistently one of squads elite teams in the league.
The Bruins just won't have experience on their side.
"Many of the teams in the conference are senior-ridden and it certainly puts us behind the eight ball a little bit," said Lowe, whose team returned five starters that lost in a playoff semifinal final to eventual champion Mercy.
There might be a lot of youth on Park's roster, but the midfield is rich in talent with sophomore Sara Lessans and juniors Hannah Sibel and Yen Baker.
The offense starts with Baker.
"I think what is really special about Yen is that she is playmaker," Lowe said. "She is very involved in every scoring play. She kind of controls our offense."
Baker will be looking to feed a revamped attack that includes sophomore Jessie Lamworth and junior Quinn Salditch.
Senior Emily King and junior Becca Kolodner are back on defense and the duo be joined by junior Kail Tambree.
They'll help protect promising freshman goalie Lexi Kuntz.
Being a freshman and playing goalie without any experience at the varsity level is a tough situation," Lowe said. "But Lexi has a great attitude and is working very hard.
2011 record: 10-4
Coach Deedee Franke's quote: "They have a good chemistry and that is an asset for my team."
Breakdown: The Generals' chemistry off the field should translate to on-the-field success as several players play their final prep seasons before embarking on college careers.
Among them are senior midfielders Kelly Lacy and Kelsey Wiglesworth, who will both play at Jacksonville University.
Senior midfielders Lauren Bosse (Penn State), Hannah Wohltmann (New Hampshire), senior attacker Sam Rickels (Bucknell) and senior goalie Sharon Ginsburg (Claremont College) have also committed to play in college.
"They are going to be the backbone of the team," Franke said.
Seniors Morgan Young (Navy) and Amelia Jones will be counted on for scoring contributions.
Junior Julie Wright anchors a defense with classmate Sara Beach (Michigan) and Allyson Thompson.
Juniors Sophia Buck, Hannah Hicklen (Cincinnati) and Maggie Coccagna and sophomores Audren Chesser, Madeline Tribbe, Casey Ryan, Olivia Davies, Nicole Demczuk and Aylish Ptak also hope to make an impact along with freshman goalie Haley Hicklen.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun