Howard County JV spring athletes earn their stripes

While each spring season essentially marks the end to another high school athletics year, for junior varsity programs and players, the games and practices between March and May actually serve as more of a beginning. Skills are learned, friendships are formed and the foundation is laid for the future of each school’s varsity programs.

For the freshmen and sophomores playing JV sports, it’s as much about building as it is about wins and losses.

In an effort to provide these athletes with some deserved recognition, we contacted each school through their athletic administration to find out about some of the highlights and top performers from the spring season. Here’s what we heard back:

BASEBALL

Atholton finished with a record of 10-4 under coach Dave Appleby. Tony Piciloski, Chris Bookter, Tony DeSantis, Caleb Barnes and Nick Varda were the top hitters for the Raiders, while Andrew Orlosky, Brandon Brown and Josh Maslan served as the top pitchers.

It was a 4-9 season for Centennial under coach Ron Pusloskie, but the team did pick up highlight wins over Howard and Marriotts Ridge. Freshmen Chris Betler, Jack Pistner and Dylan Watson were the offensive leaders, while Max Middleton, Conarie Steinbach, Conner Lashley and Liam Wood all provided strong pitching performances.

Caleb McClatchey was the anchor of the outfield thanks to his “great range,” according to Pusloskie.

Hammond played to a 5-9 record, but coach Tim Brown said every outcome was memorable.

“Seeing my team grow everyday to compete and win against a very tough opponent by not giving up and staying alert for the entirety of the game was amazing,” Brown said. “I would love to say our first win was great, and it was, but all the wins were so hard fought and I could not have asked anything better of my team.”

Freshman Cal Hewitt was one of the Golden Bears’ top pitchers — throwing three games of less than 70 pitches in six innings — and also contributed at third base and as the third batter in the lineup. Sophomore Colin Kosakowski was the starting catcher for every game and hit clean up. He threw out eight runners this year that were attempting to steal.

Freshman Marcus Lopez was Hammond’s center fielder to start the year, but later transitioned to shortstop. His speed made him an asset defensively and as a leadoff hitter, where he ended up leading the team with 14 stolen bases.

Anthony Cline was another strong freshman, and he served the team in a utility role. He pitched in five games, played second and third base, and also in the outfield. He also finished with a team-leading five doubles at the plate.

It was another season near the top of the county on and off the field for Howard, which finished with a 10-3 overall record (10-2 in county) and also had 10 of its 19 players finish the spring semester as Honor Roll students.

“This season I saw a lot of maturing and growth in this group of kids,” coach Johnny Jackson said. “They continued to get better as the season went on, finishing with a run differential of 136-36 on the year. As a team we batted .373 and had a .489 on-base percentage.”

The Lions also were successful on 35 of 37 stolen base attempts and had a pitching staff that combined for a 2.06 ERA and held the opposition to a batting average of just .183.

Freshman Ryan Anderson was the leader of the pitching staff and drew the biggest games, throwing 14 innings over three starts and finishing with a 1.00 ERA. Sophomore Jarrett Maynor was right behind him, though, and ended up leading the team in innings pitched (15.1), wins (3) and ERA among starters (0.46). Maynor also had a no-hitter in a win over Glenelg on April 13.

The bullpen was anchored by sophomore Colin Flynn, who pitched to a 2.03 ERA over 10.1 innings and allowed just three hits on the season.

Offensively, sophomores Will Simmons and Chris Horn were the leaders. Simmons hit for a .594 average in 32 at-bats, recording 13 RBI and scoring 14 runs. Horn, meanwhile, finished with a .406 average and led the team in RBI (22), homeruns (3) and slugging percentage (.843).

Catcher Trent Crumback also had a strong sophomore campaign with a .379 average and 12 RBI. Freshman shortstop Coby Robinson was another consistent contributor from the leadoff spot with a .304 average, .500 on-base percentage and nine stolen bases in nine attempts.

Long Reach finished with 10 county wins this spring, one of the best seasons in recent history for the JV program. “A team full of talented freshmen really started to buy into what we were looking to do here at Long Reach,” coach Kenneth King said.

Freshmen Tucker Freer (.452 batting average). Chris Stanford (.390, 26 runs and 12 steals), Andy Lotz (.380) and Brandon Bartolotta (.300) were all standouts in a balanced lineup. The team’s sophomore captains — catcher Justin Banks and pitcher Jake Mondy — were also key pieces.

Among the highlights were walk-off wins over River Hill and Marriotts Ridge. In the game against River Hill, the Lightning were down 10-7 going into the bottom of the seventh and ended up winning on a bases-clearing walk-off triple.

“With almost all of the team returning, there is no reason not to expect to be right back near the top of the standings next season. The culture is changing at The Reach,” King said.

It was a .500 season for Marriotts Ridge, finishing with a 7-7 record. But of those seven losses, four came with the opponent scoring in its final at-bat.

“Considering the inexperience of my team — most of the season there were only four sophomores available to play — I was pleased with their effort and growth,” coach Joshua Molnar said. “The freshmen gained valuable experience competing through close games all season and were able to beat a very talented Howard team in a late-season matchup.”

Cole Rosenthal and Blake Krupinsky led the team in hitting, both finishing with a .452 batting average. Conor Edwards, meanwhile, led the team with 11 RBI at the plate and was also the Mustangs’ pitching leader in wins and strikeouts.

Justin Woodbury was a standout on the pitching mound as well, posting an ERA of 0.53 before being moved up to varsity in April.

After entering the season with a new coach, Oakland Mills pulled together to finish with a 5-10 overall record. But the win total only told a piece of the story.

“That record is no where near indicative of the fight that these young men showed over the entire season,” coach Gary Freeman said. “The team was full of grit and key players who ignited the effort to want to win throughout the season.”

Team captains Savon Warren, Tanner Malinowski and Alex Stokes were leaders on and off the field, according to Freeman. Kion Pitts, Chance Meadows and Cam Canter, meanwhile, all stepped up and made big plays as well.

Arderii Brown and Paul Lebert were the main sources of power, each hitting multiple home runs. Kevin Holderman also showcased big upside for the future.

There were several big wins, none more exciting than a walk-off victory against Centennial. With the bases loaded and two outs in a tie game, Pitts hit a line-drive single to left to plate the winning run.

A end-of-the-year win over Reservoir was also a standout effort.

It was a 10-5 overall season (9-5 county) for Reservoir.

Shortstop Bradley Davidson and outfielder JM Musser led the Gators in several offensive categories and both were very successful on the mound. “They earned their way to an early call-up to a very competitive varsity team, where Bradley immediately started at third base and JM rotated into the outfield,” coach Zachary Nunn said.

Among the season highlights for Reservoir was a comeback win over Marriotts Ridge where it scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game. Then in the eighth, Chase Rezmer came through with a clutch hit down the third-base line to earn the walk-off victory.

With a great mix of freshmen and sophomores, River Hill finished with a record of 9-6 this season.

Alex Elliott, who finished with a 4-1 record and a 3.50 ERA to go along with 25 strikeouts, led the Hawks on the mound.

Offensively, Gabe Lancaster Dixon hit for a .500 average and drove in 21 runs, Woodie Lynott hit .388 with five doubles, a home run and 19 RBI, and John Koutras finished the season hitting .500 to go along with 17 runs.

Overall, River Hill had a three-game winning streak to start the season and closed with four straight wins.

Wilde Lake “peaked at the end of the season,” according to coach Ben Townsend.

Freshman Pitcher and shortstop Sam Balthis led the team in hits and showed great leadership alongside team captains Hunter Ubbens and Andrew Brock. Ubbens, a freshman, led the team in runs and was a strong base runner, while Brock filled key roles at pitcher, second base and shortstop.

SOFTBALL

Atholton won five games this spring, the most for the team in the last four years.

“We had many players that were novices and same that were experienced. With the combination of both we were able to overcome and work hard,” coach Jessica Grady said. “We played in the snow, rain and heat, and played strong.”

Alex Gardner and Marianna Lennon were the Raiders’ captains, providing leadership and keeping the team motivated.

Of the 15 players on the Centennial roster, only one — Lala Diliare — came into the season with softball experience. Additionally, Billy Martin and Eddie Fowler were first-time coaches.

But despite the inexperience, the Eagles improved greatly over the course of the season after a rough start to finish with a 3-9 record. The infield ended up being the strength of the team, with catcher Delanie Tucker, first baseman Kiran Vepa, second baseman Kash Awoskia, shortstop Alejandra Urquiaga and third baseman Seohyn Park all making their share of big plays.

After losing the team’s original pitcher to varsity, Nour Eloseily became the team’s regular starter. “Nour was recruited from the JV basketball team and displayed an incredible attitude throughout the season and became a much better pitcher as the season progressed,” coach Martin said. “Her improvements were evident in our second game against Howard. After the team allowed 20 runs in the first contest against Howard, Nour held Howard to five total runs in the second [matchup] through six innings. Our defense made some incredible plays to limit Howard to so few runs.”

The highlight of the season for Centennial was a come-from-behind win over River Hill in the final game of the season. After trailing 10-8 entering the bottom of the second inning, the Eagles scored five times to take a 13-10 lead. Later, with the game close in the top of the seventh inning, the team turned a double play to seal the win.

“We are very proud of the team and how well each player improved,” Martin said. “It was a fun season and we couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls to coach.”

Hammond was 1-10 in county play and 1-11 overall, but with a focus on fundamentals the team still showed great positive strides over the course of the season.

“We had several players that had never played softball and improved their playing every day as the season went by,” coach Maria Ferraro said. “Our players worked hard to improve their catching, throwing, hitting and base running. Each game the players persevered and continued to try their best to score runs whenever possible.”

Returning players Alexis Kujawa, Erika Goodwin, Grace Hartley and Kaili Ferguson were this year’s leaders for the Golden Bears. Kujawa and Ferguson were strong outfielders, while Hartley was a standout at third base. After Goodwin sustained an ankle injury against Howard, Ferguson also filled in at pitcher late in the year.

Juliette Norris, Kelley Noppenberger and Alara Sheriff were newcomers that made big contributions, with Norris and Sheriff each playing strong defense at catcher. All three were consistent at the plate and with their base running.

Pitchers Ferguson and Brooke Albright were also instrumental to the team’s growth and resiliency.

Other players to watch moving forward are Jasmine Britt, Kay Butterfield, Emily Paz and Jessi Vick.

Howard was one of the county’s top teams again this spring, finishing with a 10-1 record that included four shutouts. The team’s only loss came by a run, 16-15, against Marriotts Ridge.

“Despite the final result, this game showed the real character and resiliency of these young women,” coach Jodi Bahrijczuk said. “Down by as much as nine runs, these ladies clawed their way back into the game and gave themselves a chance to win.”

Ellen Gabriel led the Lions defensively by converting 44 of 46 putout opportunities with no fielding errors. Kerri Holderman was right behind her with 69 putouts in 73 chances. At pitcher, Angelina Tyler posted the team’s lowest ERA (1.67).

Holderman (.704 average), Tyler (.625) and Brianna Fisher (.594) were the team leaders in terms of batting average. Fisher, Erin Smith and Kaleigh Hoffman were the top players in terms of RBI, with each finishing with 21.

Under new coach Keith Williams, Long Reach finished with a 4-7-3 record.

“The team grew leaps and bounds from the beginning of the season. We struggled early on to get wins, but we were competitive in most of the games,” Williams said. “I kept reiterating to the girls that if we focus on working hard, playing together and making good plays, then we would grow and develop as a team.”

The last four games of the season for the Lightning showcased that growth. It all culminated in the season finale where the team avenged an earlier loss to Glenelg by holding off a late rally to earn a 20-19 victory.

Among the highlights along the way was freshman Madison Barrett hitting a grand slam against Centennial.

After a difficult 2017 season, Mt. Hebron bounced back with an 8-6 county record (8-7 overall) this spring. Things started fast, with the Vikings undefeated four games into the year and averaging 17 runs per game to that point.

“With only four returning players and six new players that had never played before, our early success was amazing,” coach Bob Gibbons said.

After going through a slow stretch in the middle of the season, the team regrouped to finish strong with wins in four of its last seven contests.

Pitching played a big role in the success, with returning sophomores Victoria Iveljic and Natalie Rosenquist, along with freshman Emi Bernstein, all contributing. The biggest surprise in the circle, though, was sophomore newcomer Gracie Brocato. She ended up as the team MVP, throwing six complete games and leading the team in ERA and fewest walks and hits per inning.

Sophomore Ashlee Arena and freshman Sydney Wolf shared the catching load.

Sophomores Allison Larrabee, Rosenquist and Brocato led the way offensively. Larrabee was the team leader in RBI (31), runs (31) extra-base hits and average (.536) — reaching base safely in every game but one. Rosenquist led the team in hits and Brocato scored 26 runs.

Other big contributors to the offense were freshmen Vivian Phung (.375 average) and Karis Lawson (.619 on-base percentage). Sophomores Audrey Hill and Kiersten Rogers, along with freshmen Amy Moy and Rida Mahmood, were other keys both offensively and defensively.

“Winning or losing, the girls were always supportive of each other. In fact, if you were at any of our games and did not know the score, a quick check in the dugout would not be very helpful — there was always a party going on,” Gibbons said.

It was a winning season for Reservoir, posting a record of 10-5 in county and 11-5 overall. The team featured nine players new to Reservoir softball, seven of which had little or no experience, and still pulled together to succeed.

Among the season highlights was a seven-inning game against Arundel that featured five lead changes before the Gators prevailed 17-14 in the bottom of the final inning. Emma Richmond pitched all seven innings in the win on the heels of throwing a combined 10 innings the previous two days against Glenelg and Marriotts Ridge.

“The growth from the beginning of the year to the end of the year was outstanding,” coach Jaleel Moore said. “The girls played up to their competition each and every game and every student athlete showed great improvements throughout the season. Coaching these girls has been a blessing and I hope each and every girl had a lot of fun representing the program.”

Freshman Rihannon Little led the team with a .850 batting average (34-40) and 55 stolen bases, while sophomore Taylor Davis was right behind her with an average of .685 (24-35). Freshman Meredith Beck was also an offensive force with a batting average of .555 (20-36).

Richmond, meanwhile, anchored the defense as the team’s ace pitcher.

River Hill capitalized on hard work and playing as a team to post a 5-8 county record (6-8 overall).

Sophomores Victoria Thompson, Sage Christianson and Amber Mosley were the leaders for the Hawks, utilizing their knowledge and communication skills to guide the less experienced players on the field.

Sophomore Alexa Thompson, along with freshmen Anika Satapathy, Rebecca Le, Emma Smith and Maya Vibhakar, anchored the outfield. Victoria Thompson, Christianson, Smith, Satapathy and Claudia Shomette all took turns contributing at pitcher.

Esther Gershenson was a solid defender at third base, while Rachel Robinson and Rhea Kalra each provided a spark as well throughout the spring.

It was a standout season for Wilde Lake, finishing with a record of 12-3 despite having eight of 13 players that had never played softball before.

Freshman pitcher Erin Conover threw all but one inning on the season, serving as the team’s ace and forming a great bond with catchers Valarie Hibbard and Jordan Grimes. “With that commitment at the 1 and 2 position, this required our opponents to hit the ball or get struck out,” coach Wayne Haver said.

The infield of Lily Richards at first, Shania James at second, Lluvia Carranza Celis at shortstop and Macayla Miles at third gave the Wildecats a reliable defense across the diamond. The outfield was also extremely reliable with Deisy Fortier Ardila, Abigail McCoy, Whitney Bacon, Rayonna Reaves, Victoria Sanchez-Benitez, Kebron Zeleke and Lisa Zhuang all holding things down.

Richards and Miles each hit home runs this season, with Richard hitting a 3-run home run against Glenelg and Miles delivering a grand slam against Oakland Mills.

Among the season highlights was scoring five runs in one inning against Howard, one of the county’s top teams. While Wilde Lake lost the game, Haver said the Lions’ coach said afterward it was the biggest inning against them since she had been leading the team.

The Wildecats scored 199 runs offensively this spring.

“It was a season to remember and build off of for the Wilde Lake softball program,” Haver said.

BOYS LACROSSE

Atholton went 3-4 in county and 5-5 overall with a roster featuring 15 freshmen and just seven returners from last year’s team. The Raiders defense was led by sophomores Brandon Duke, Lucas Maggio and John Adams and freshman goalie Garret Walsh. Offensively, Grant Billard led the way, while freshmen Malcolm Jones scored 24 goals and Mason Meyerpeter had 15. Sophomore Corey Pumphrey was the team’s leader in ground balls.

One of the team’s best moments of the year came against River Hill. Down 9-1 at halftime, they battled back and lost 14-8.

“I told the team at halftime that it’s not about coaching, it’s about not giving up and finding a way to get back in the game and play two great quarters and fight until the end,” said Raiders coach Mark Falcon. “This was a very positive season towards building a strong program.”

Like the varsity team, Centennial had a very successful season and went 6-1 in county and 8-2 overall. Jake Ritter (31 goals, 12 assists) and Shawn Kruhm (19 goals, 9 assists) led the offense, Jake Rower (7 goals, 12 assists) and Darien Avery (11 goals, 6 assists) were the leaders at midfield, and the defense was controlled by Evan Keller (11 ground balls), Ryan Firebaugh (21 ground balls), Malik Chester (30 ground balls) and Kevin Garroway (14 ground balls).

Overall, the defense held opposing teams to 4.1 goals per game, thanks in large part to goalie Alex Kaufman, who had 85 saves on the season.

“The team bought into what the coaching staff was telling them and finished the season with a great record,” said Eagles coach John Spaide. “We gave a very good Glenelg team a hard fought game for our last game of the season, falling to them 10-6. This team has a lot to be proud of based on our accomplishments this season.”

Glenelg went undefeated in county play and lost just once this spring to Severna Park.

Trey Fleece was a strong player as a specialist taking faceoffs, and he was helped by goalie Charlie Wendel, Colin Buch, Evan Whatley and Ian Hall on offense, and Sam Gruber, Ethan Waksmunski and Ridgely Jones on defense.

Defensive midfielders Cameron Sedlack and Michael Salandra were “absolutely instrumental in our success this year,” coach Jeff Shear said.

Some of the highlights of the season were wins over Urbana and Broadneck.

Howard went 4-1 in county and 9-1 overall this spring behind a dominating defense that was led by sophomores Kyle Perry, Scott Trout, Tyler Guerke and Cole Carter at close defense and Seth Trout in goal. The unit held opposing teams to an average of 3.6 goals per contest.

Offensively, the team averaged 9.0 goals per game and was led by midfielder/faceoff specialist Will Drnach, midfielder Colin Hunter and attackman Colin Sutch.

The highlight of the year was beating South River for the first time.

“It was a game where we really came together as a team,” Lions coach Matthew Hanson said. “All of our goals were assisted and we had to go much deeper into our bench than we had leading up to that game.”

Long Reach finished 4-5 overall this spring despite having just three players on the team that had ever played lacrosse before. With 14 sophomores and nine freshman, the Lightning players “were like sponges,” coach Jay Bond said, and learned the sport in a hurry.

They opened the season with a 2-1 win over Patapsco and also beat Meade, 7-1. They closed out the year with a 15-2 win against Hammond and a 16-2 victory over Patuxent. Sophomore attackman Jonathan Park, a first-year player, scored eight goals against the Golden Bears and six versus Patuxent.

Marriotts Ridge went 2-3 in county and 3-7 overall this spring. Jack Baxter, Jake Rosenbloom, Phil Schutty and Thomas Coakley were the team’s leading defenders, and Dylan Smith, Sam Geiger, Brandon Glover, Maurice Manswell, Jack Bacon and Avery Gloyd were the Mustangs’ top offensive players.

“The Mustangs fought hard this year on the lacrosse field,” coach Matthew Richter said. “Four of the seven losses were by one goal.”

Mt. Hebron finished the season 2-4 in the league and 2-8 overall and were led by team captains Jack Callaghan, Evan Carneal, Joe Nolan, Kevin Watts and Dylan Wolf. Freshmen Hayden Aberdeen and Alan Covert also contributed and complemented the sophomore leadership.

“Despite our overall record and our low numbers this year, I was always happy with our effort,” said Vikings coach Michael Tittsworth. “Getting our first win against Reservoir was rewarding and it displayed our potential when we play our game.”

Oakland Mills was greatly improved this spring, finishing with a 6-5 overall record (2-3 county) after going 3-9 last year.

Goalie Zion Coleman anchored the defense with a 58.3 save percentage, while Patrick Farrall won more than 50 percent of his face-offs and picked up 40 ground balls.

Tyler May led the Scorpions with 19 goals and Papa Frempong was the team leader with eight assists.

Reservoir finished the spring with a record of 2-7-1 and had a solid mix of young experience and sophomore leadership from midfielders Michael Gonzalez and James Hammer and defenders Dylan Altman and Otis Ashton.

Mitch Baer was the Gators’ top scorer and Sean Maruschak led the team in assists. Freshman Steven Musser made an impact at midfield, and sophomore Cole Van Cleave was solid in goal.

“Overall the team worked and played hard throughout the whole season and has a lot of potential,” said coach Robert While. “If they continue to work in the offseason, playing and hitting the wall, they have a bright future ahead of them here at Reservoir.”

River Hill had a solid year this spring and went 5-2 in county and 7-4 overall. Captains Andrew Skalny and Santiago Bryant were the “unquestioned leaders” of the team, coach Kennedy Paynter said.

“Andrew was a lead-by-example player that led the attack while Santiago was an exceptional two-way [midfielder] with a relentless motor,” Kennedy said. “Mitchell Haugh led the defense and was one of the most improved players on the team. Ethan Brown was the leading goal-scorer while Liam Slade grew as a goalie throughout the season. Devin Campbell was a freshman standout and vocal leader.”

Kennedy said this was a “special team” because it had only 14 healthy players on the roster and two were lost late in the season with injuries.

“Each player took it upon themselves to invest in the team and put the work in,” he said. “With zero subs on the midfield, our midfielders played nearly 100 percent of the game without an ounce of quit.”

GIRLS LACROSSE

Coach Sarah Walker said it was a challenging season for Atholton, which finished 2-8 in county play, but she added her team “remained positive and gave it all they had on the field.”

The Raiders used two goalies, Devin Bautz and Autumn Wenstrom, and had a solid defense of Amina Aboulhana, Justine Nguyen, Kas Kerrigan, Mia Lazzari, Sam Roerty and Keenan Proctor in front of them. Walker said they excelled in getting the ball to the team’s midfield, which Madison McCabe, Summer Hughes and Makenna Hammill directed. The trio made strong transitions to first-time attackers Casey Coughlan and Michelle Kavka.

“I am really proud of every girl on the team and how they improved throughout the season,” Walker said.

Centennial (2-7 overall) improved throughout the season and received tremendous effort from the entire team this spring, coach Kelsea Valance said. The captains this season year were sophomores Eliza Andrew, Natalie Knight-Giffin and Kristin Parisi. The latter two players were strong defenders that worked with goalkeeper Melissa Notti to fend off opposing attacks. In her first lacrosse season, Notti finished with more than 65 saves to earn the team’s unsung hero award.

Freshman Lily Sullivan (12 goals) was named the Eagles’ MVP and led a midfield that also included Maddie Carr, Leah Alkire, Grace Garner and Chloe Young.

A highlight for Centennial this season was when the Eagles beat Atholton in overtime without making any substitutions. Andrew scored the winning goal in a 5-4 victory in which Valance said her group “played their hearts out.”

Centennial’s motto this season was “It Starts Now,” which served as a reminder that each day was equally important for the players as they prepared for the upcoming varsity seasons. Valance said she will miss her 15 sophomores graduating to varsity but is excited to see what lies ahead.

“The CHS girls lacrosse program was a family with improvement and progress in mind,” Valance said, “and that showed both on and off the field this season.”

Glenelg finished 7-3 this season against a highly competitive schedule that included three games against private schools. The Gladiators opened the season with a loss to Notre Dame Prep, but coach Chris Beil said the contest showed him and his team that it was capable of playing against the area’s best programs. Their only other defeats on the year came to St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes — a game in which they held a 3-0 lead — and against Marriotts Ridge, which Beil thought was the best team Glenelg played all year.

After falling to the Mustangs, the Gladiators concluded the 2018 campaign with a complete effort in a win over Bishop Ireton and a 10-3 victory against Mt. Hebron, which beat them in a scrimmage.

The captains this season were leading goal scorer Meredith Arterbur, Megan Writt and Gabby Steinberg. Callie Anderson (36 saves) kept the Gladiators in games with her play in goal, while Lizzy Hesen anchored a stout defense. Other contributors included Laken Marshall, who led the team in assists, Megan Goodman, Anna Towle, Jessica Stiller and Molly Metz.

Hammond received a solid turnout of players this spring and capitalized on the increased interest. Coach Amy Holly said the Golden Bears (4-7 overall) fostered lasting relationships and showed noticeable improvement as the season progressed.

The Golden Bears’ captains were sophomores Anna Childress, Abike Oregnuga and Esmeralda Puga. Childress, the team’s leading scorer, and freshman Julia Moyer paced the attack, while Oregnuga and freshmen Grace Yodiz and Tamara Bush were the core midfielders. Meanwhile, Holly said sophomore goalkeeper Karina Joseph made significant strides in net. Playing defense in front of Joseph were freshmen Rachel Osei-Nsafoah, Nhi Nguyen, Ama Stott and Hallie Benda and sophomores Tiyonna Stokes and Far Cuai.

A lot of these players also got to compete in the Gay Petrlik Tournament, which Holly said allowed them to test their skills against varsity competition.

“It was great to see so many young girls coming out, most for a sport they had never played before and putting in the work to be successful and grow,” Holly said.

Howard (3-2 county, 8-2 overall) displayed marked improvement from last season, when it finished 3-8-1.

Freshman Madison Anthony and sophomores Camille Malagar and Skye Swann spearheaded the turnaround. According to coach Ali Taylor, Anthony was a skilled midfielder that led the team in draw controls, Malagar served as the defensive leader with her tremendous field vision, and Swann was a “strong force” in the attacking third.

Some high points for the Lions were a hot start to the year, an inspired effort during a 12-10 loss to Glenelg and a gutsy performance in the season finale. The Lions received three consecutive yellow cards in that game — forcing them to play three girls down and then one player down for the last 12 minutes — yet still pulled out the victory.

With a team of 16 freshmen and just six sophomores, Marriotts Ridge ran through the 2018 campaign undefeated, picking up wins over Severna Park, Glenelg, South River and McDonogh along the way.

The season-long winning streak came after the Mustangs were blown out in a scrimmage against St. Paul's School for Girls, a game coach Thomas Brandel said helped the team refocus on offensive and defensive fundamentals. Offensively, Brandel preached catching and throwing, cutting and feeding and executing plays. The girls also “bought into the defense 100 percent,” which allowed the Mustangs to shut out three opponents and limit high-scoring offenses.

Sophomore Emma Miller was the team MVP thanks to her versatility and domination in the draw circle, and freshman Maggie Merrill led the team in scoring. Meanwhile, Tori Vandenberge manned the goal with fellow freshmen Lane Schank, Morgan Lee, Natalie Held and Lauren Fisher defending in front of her.

“Each game we played, the girls rose to the challenge, and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Brandel said.

Mt. Hebron ended the season 6-2 in county play and 7-3 overall under second-year coach Mark DeBels.

“Mt. Hebron had 11 returning players, along with 11 new freshmen, who came together very quickly to form a cohesive unit," DeBels said. “Overall, it was a very successful season.”

Eighteen different players scored at least one goal for a Vikings team that outscored opponents, 112-33, assisted on half of those scores and recorded five shutouts.

The sophomore trio of Anna Romenskaya (24 goals, 22 assists), Sophia Smith (22 goals, 3 assists), and Kaitlyn Milauskas (20, goals, 10 assists) paced the attack, while sophomores Zoe Perna and Olivia Minnich, as well as freshman Sophie LeClaire, led the midfield unit. Other strong midfielders included sophomores Caroline Pearce and Mackenzie Strozyk and freshman Amber Wartman. Minnich and Pearce led the way on draw controls.

Freshmen primarily led the defense, which included Kate Milano, Michaella Matanin, Madison Craig and Mia Holland, as well as sophomore Emily Coliano. In net for the second straight year, Anna Hofmann had a save percentage of 50 percent.

Oakland Mills also won seven of its 10 games overall while going 3-2 in county play.

Midfielders Cori Lawson and Yasmine Megdiche paced the offense with 23 goals apiece, while Megdiche finished the year with 40 draw controls. Attacker Kylie Tracy (seven scores) and goalkeeper Kiana Wambui (73 saves) also made valuable contributions.

“The coaches are extremely proud of how the season turned out,” Scorpions coach Jamie Twardowicz said. “We are very proud of all of the hard work our players have put in to accomplish a winning record. Games like the Wilde Lake game stood out the most to us, as it was a close game. We are very impressed with how our team kept their composure and played smart all game. We think this shows a lot of growth in our players because they are building their lacrosse IQ. And as coaches, that was one of our goals this season.”

Reservoir coach Wendell Thomas saw “tremendous growth” this season from his young team, many of whom had not played organized lacrosse entering the year. The Gators finished 2-5 in county play and 2-8 overall.

Thomas made sure to highlight goalkeepers Isabella Brown and Elaine Dudek. The duo made about 12 saves per game, he said. Against Chesapeake, Brown had 19 stops.

Despite being held scoreless in five games, Reservoir managed to tally 30 goals.

Abby Bond paced the team with 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) while fellow sophomore captain Rianna Nunnes led the group in scoring. Freshman Kate Abunassar emerged as the Gators’ top midfielder and contributed two goals and two assists.

Meanwhile, Thomas pegged defenders Jaslyn Saenz and Caitlin Toler as new players that have promising futures. Saenz received the Unsung Hero Award, while Brown earned the Outstanding Player award and Abunassar won the Coaches Award.

A moment to remember was Reservoir’s 10-4 season-opening victory over Oakland Mills. Seven players scored — four of which were playing in their first high school lacrosse game — and everyone played and contributed in some way, Thomas said.

River Hill won five of its seven county games and finished 7-5 overall this season with a roster comprised of 12 freshmen and eight sophomores. Key wins for the Hawks came against Centennial, Reservoir and Atholton, coach Philip Vangeli said.

The team’s offensive leaders were attackers Sara Sharp (26 goals, 6 assists) and Caroline Healy (17 goals) and midfielders Jaime Caine (7 goals, 8 assists) and Maura Kilcoyne (12 goals, 1 assist). Defensive stalwarts included Kelly Key, Greta Kluckhuhn, and Bridgette Rodell, while Sarah Hornor and Madeline Florenzo commanded the draw circle.

In net, first-year goalkeeper and defensive MVP Jasmine James made 71 saves. Sharp won the offensive MVP award thanks to her scoring prowess as well as her contributions in the midfield and on the draw.

“River Hill had a good season,” Vangeli said. “And with the possibility of 12 girls returning to next year's squad, the expectations will be very high.”

Despite a challenging start to the season, Wilde Lake continued to battle and display a positive attitude on its way to finishing the season 4-11 overall.

Freshman midfielder Sara Moody stuffed the stat sheet, totaling 13 goals, 24 draw controls, 53 ground balls and eight caused turnovers. But she was far from the only contributor. Meriam Salehi added 16 points (9 goals, 7 assists) as well as 17 ground balls, Melanie Patterson and Meghan Barnum each notched five goals and Jocelyn Zillmer scored twice.

In the defensive half of the field, Erica Switzer, Meridian McCall and Hannah Turner played in front of goalkeeper Laudie Downard (43 saves).

Coach Kelly Vieira’s favorite memory this season came against Hammond with her team trailing, 4-1, at halftime. After a pep talk and a team cheer, the Wildecats showed a “completely new energy” in the second period, holding the Golden Bears scoreless and winning the game with a last-minute goal.

“I am so proud of the JV lax girls and how far they have come since the first day of tryouts,” Vieira said. “We are already looking forward to next year.”

Reach Brent Kennedy at bkennedy@baltsun.com or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports

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