2012 record: 8-3, 13-4
Top players: Seniors Hans Kouame# (F), Eli Phillips (MF), Garrett Sinclair (D) and Andrew Vincent (MF); junior John Caldwell (MF); sophomore Javier Avetrani (MF).
What you need to know: The Scorpions have established themselves as the deepest program in the county the last few years, so the graduation of 18 guys from the 2012 squad doesn’t sting quite as much as it would otherwise. As Coach Shea puts it, there’s always someone ready to step in.
Oakland Mills features athleticism all over the field, especially up top with Kouame. He is coming off a 19-point season (7 goals and 5 assists) and may be the county’s fastest player in open space. “If he gets the ball up over the top, you’re not going to catch him,” Shea said. “He has tremendous breakaway speed.”
He’ll have help in the scoring department with Caldwell (5 and 5) returning, along with the addition of a couple talented underclassmen. Elsewhere, Phillips is a four-year letterman that was a captain last year. Also keep an eye on Avetrani, who will be a star on defense after deciding not to go the soccer academy route.
Coach: Reg Hahne
2012 record: 7-4, 14-6
Top players: Seniors Kyle Kroll (GK), Michael Peprah (F), Philipp Reichel (F) and Emilio Rodas* (MF); junior Kyle Saunderson (D).
What you need to know: After suffering a few setbacks during the regular season, the Gators caught fire during the postseason and rode the momentum all the way to a state title. Several key pieces from that squad are back, although Coach Hahne says a few of them have been battling injuries during the preseason. Their experience, however, is irreplaceable. “It should give us focus to the fact that the season is long and anything can happen,” Hahne said.
Rodas, Kroll, Peprah and Saunderson will serve as captains. Rodas is a returning first-team all-county player that may be the county’s best on corner kicks and free kicks. Saunderson is the team’s “rock” on defense. Keep an eye on Reichel, who is an exchange student from Germany that is expected to make an immediate impact. Overall, Hahne likes this team’s balance of having strength on defense, creativity in the midfield and speed at forward.
Coach: Matt Shagogue
2012 record: 6-2-3, 10-4-3
Top players: Seniors Derek Farley (MF), Zach Riso* (MF) and Jake Turney* (F); sophomore Mike Heitzmann (MF).
What you need to know: The Hawks haven’t won a county or state championship since 2007, although this year’s team has the talent to change all that. Seven starters are back, including an experienced goalie and Coach Shagogue says the team is excited about the chance to take the next step. “We’ve been close, but we haven’t been able to get over the hump the last six years,” he said.
Riso and Turney are both four-year varsity guys that are coming off first-team all-county seasons. They are the top returning offensive duo in the county after producing a combined 51 points as juniors. Turney, especially, could be in for a breakout season considering teams won’t be able to double-team him the way they have in the past. Heitzmann should help shoulder some of the scoring load after scoring five goals as a freshman.
River Hill will be tested right off the bat with its first two county games coming against Reservoir and Oakland Mills.
Coach: Jon Robinson