Harford Community College has been gearing up for the fall sports season. Here's a peek at the women's and men's soccer teams. The college has also named a new softball coach.
A seven-win, four-tie campaign might not qualify as disappointing to most teams, but the Harford women's soccer program does not qualify as most teams.
Under the guidance of 10-year head coach Jason Muffoletto, the Fighting Owls have finished in the top 10 in the nation numerous times, including a No. 4 finish in 2011. Harford has been accustomed to 16-, 15- and 19-win seasons between 2009-11.
For the first time in seven years, the Fighting Owls did not reach the Region XX Championship Game, and the 7-5-4 campaign in 2012 did not live up to Harford standards. The 2013 squad has visions to change those standards.
Four Fighting Owls return from last year's group, hungry to taste "normal" women's soccer success. Brianna Worthington is the leading returning scorer with six goals and three assists as a freshman. Madison Ferrara added three tallies and three helpers from the midfield ranks while Korey Carroll chipped in with a goal and an assist. The lone defender returning from last year is Erica Henry, who started every game and was an integral piece in six shutouts as a rookie.
A main void to fill will fall in Madison Smith's gloved hands. The freshman from Cecil County is the front runner to start at goalie for the Fighting Owls. Evie Powell (forward) and Ange Barbieri (midfield) are also freshmen who will be counted on early and often.
Sierra Sadtler will try to replace Rachel Keeley at centerback. Keeley graduated and transferred to NCAA Division I's Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to play alongside former teammate goalkeeper and 2011 All-American Audrey Baldwin. Sadtler, who was a standout women's lacrosse player for the Fighting Owls last spring, earning All-Region honors with 25 goals and six assists, will try her luck on the pitch for the first time at Harford.
A milestone on the horizon for Harford and Muffoletto could be reached during the first weekend. The Fighting Owl head coach is just one victory away from winning his 100th career game.
The Fighting Owls have 10 home games in their first 13 contests and end the season as hosts of both the region and district tournaments, should they advance that far. The 2013 campaign begins at home on Sunday at noon against Rhode Island. Harford faces four region champions this season: CCRI, CCBC Essex, Monroe College and Louisburg.
The Harford men's soccer team has achieved program firsts and school records in the three years since head coach Jason Muffoletto has taken over. What has escaped them, however, is a regional championship. This could be the year for the team to get past the 88th-minute jinx?
In 2011, the Fighting Owls posted an 11-0-1 MD JUCO record en route to their first-ever conference crown, but fell in the Region XX Championship Game to Southern Maryland in the 88th minute, 3-2. Last season, Harford again gained the top seed in the region tournament, and again fell in the 88th minute, this time to CCBC Essex, 2-1.
Muffoletto returns a solid core and again has brought in a talented group of freshmen in hopes of grasping what has eluded his team since he took over in 2010.
The Fighting Owls welcome back three potent scorers and a trio of seasoned defenders to this year's squad. Saidu Sankoh, 2012 NJCAA All-American, will look to capitalize on his impressive rookie campaign when he scored 11 goals and three assists for 25 points. Felipe Botteon claimed All-MD JUCO and All-Region honors with five goals and six assists. Jack Hadley quietly had a solid freshman campaign for Harford, with three goals and one assist.
Defensively, the Fighting Owls return Lucas Ward, Kelcee Jones and Christopher Almquist. Ward collected four assists with his uncanny ability to deliver precise throw-ins to the Harford scorers. Jones played in 16 contests and Almquist joined the team midway through last season and immediately provided solid pressure in the backfield.
Like on the women's side, Muffoletto will hand the keys to the goalkeeping position to a talented freshman. Ian Dowding, who earned First-Team All-Metro in high school, will be counted, after the Fighting Owls lost all goalies from a year ago.
Freshmen forwards Nat Hand and Asa Driscoll could shine bright and add depth to an already talented front line for the Fighting Owls.
Harford opens the 2013 slate at home against Delaware County on Monday before hitting the road for a daunting weekend. The Fighting Owls will take on Cape Fear in North Carolina on Aug. 31 before challenging No. 19 Spartanburg Methodist on Sept. 1. The following weekend will be a pivotal rematch of the Region XX Title Game as Harford travels to CCBC Essex on Sept. 7.
The schedule gets no easier following that road stretch, as Harford welcomes Howard on Sept. 10 to Harford Stadium. The Dragons beat the Fighting Owls, 2-1, last year and finished just ahead of them in the MD JUCO Standings. The final conference match pits the last two MD JUCO Champions as Harford travels to Montgomery on Oct. 11.
New softball coach
Harford Athletics and Athletic Director Ken Krsolovic also announced the hiring of Erin Clary as softball head coach. Clary, an NCAA National Champion, played collegiately at Lock Haven University, an NCAA Division II school in central Pennsylvania.
Prior to coming to Harford Community College, Clary spent one year as an assistant at Washington & Jefferson College, an NCAA Division III school in Washington, Pa. She helped the Presidents reach their first conference tournament appearance since 2007 with 25 victories.
As a student-athlete at Lock Haven, Clary earned All-PSAC honors as a junior and was a three-year starter at shortstop. As a freshman, she was part of the 51-6 Lady Eagles NCAA National Championship team.
A career .308 hitter, Clary enjoyed her best season in 2011, batting .339 with a career-best 11 doubles for the 26-14 Lady Eagles. LHU reached the PSAC and NCAA Tournament all four years of her stellar career. In all, Clary collected 117 hits, 29 doubles, one triple, five home runs and 41 RBIs while stealing 20 bases and scoring 92 runs.
Clary played high school softball at Susquehannock in New Freedom, Pa., where she was a two-time PIAA State Champion at AAA. She also earned First-Team All-State shortstop as a junior and senior.
Clary graduated from Lock Haven with a bachelor's degree in psychology in 2012.
Information submitted by Kevin Carver, HCC's Director of Athletic CommunicationsCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun