Turnover is just part of the high school athletic routine. Athletes grow up, graduate and move on. Coaches change too. But officials? This is new for the county.
Following a sudden end of contract, the county elected to hire a new board of officials. Some of the officials from the Howard Carroll Officials Association have joined the new board, the Central Maryland Officials Association, but for the most part there will be a lot of new officials on the field. The teams met some at the play day and are hopeful for a smooth transition.
Also looking for a smooth transition are the new coaches. There are seven new JV coaches looking to provide a strong foundation of skill for their respective programs.
Two programs will be welcoming veteran coaches into their varsity positions, Martie Dyer at Atholton and Lindsay Beil at Reservoir. Maintaining consistency in head coach positions can ensure that the perennial front-runners will continue to be tough to beat. As always there are teams that are prepared and eager to upset the favorites.
Powerhouse Glenelg will be the team to beat. The Gladiators have been county champions for four consecutive years. The reigning Class 2A state champs are looking to "three-peat", which may be extremely plausible as they "really only have four positions to fill from last year's team" according to coach Ginger Kincaid. Missing from the line-up will be three-time Player of the Year Alyssa Parker and her talented teammate Mary Kate Olson. Both have moved on to play collegiately. Although notable players have graduated, the rising upperclassmen will maintain the level of competitive play those before them have established.
With great skill comes a great target and there will be a long line of teams seeking to take the county crown off of Glenelg's head.
Mt. Hebron will field a strong team with 10 returning varsity players. The 2011 3A state semifinalists will seek to draw strength from returning all-county first-team players Tianna Wallpher, Lindsey Dewey and keeper Maddy Fisher.
Also vying to make a mark in the county will be River Hill, led by Kat Varga, also a first team all-county pick and second team all-state. She tallied 20 goals last season, second only to Alyssa Parker.
It would be amiss to not mention Atholton, Howard and Marriotts Ridge. Howard has a strong core of club players who play year-round as does Atholton, which only graduated two seniors. Marriotts Ridge, a school with a history of strong athletes is also returning a strong keeper in Sophie Hamilton.
Simply put it is anybody's year. Only time will tell the story of who is willing to do the work to earn it.
There are not many rule changes this year. One change is that opponents need to be five yards away from the ball as opposed to the seven yards used previously.
Also new this year will be artificial turf fields at Atholton, Hammond and Howard. It is in the plans to provide turf to the remaining nine schools by 2015.
2011 record: 6-5 county; 7-6 overall
Top players: Seniors Kelly McQuilkin (M), Ellie Matthews (M) and Briana Stine (F); juniors Rachel Day (F) and Nikki Martin (D); sophomores Jen Bleakney (F) and Emily Clinch (GK).
The scoop: Atholton graduated only two players and with eight seniors the Raiders are hoping to make a stand in the county. "Our strength is our fast-breaking capabilities with a powerful forward line," coach Martie Dyer said.
First-team all-county player McQuilkin will most likely control the midfield, but look for Bleakney to have a great impact as well. According to Dyer, "[Bleakney] is a dedicated year-round player with tremendous potential to be a powerhouse in the county." Another impact player, Day, will be appearing on the forward line; this is a change in perspective for her as she spent the majority of the 2011 season on defense.
The Raiders pack a lot of skill and committed players. Although not a powerhouse last year, they may just surprise some teams this year.
2011 record: 6-5; 9-8
Top players: Juniors Kay Kelly (M) and Margaret Maclean (F).
The scoop: The Eagles had a tremendous run at the end of the season last year upsetting Howard in double overtime in the regional quarterfinal and advancing until they lost to Mt. Hebron in the regional final. Unfortunately, Centennial graduated 11 of those players including two senior goalkeepers. They will lean heavily on returning starters and captains Kelly and Maclean.
The new, younger squad will need to concentrate on team chemistry. As coach Tara Fadrowski said, "We have had to focus on building a group that can trust each other and be there for each other on and off of the field."
Although her team is young, Fadrowski said, "I have a group that works very hard and came in great physical shape. They are dedicated and really believe in the team and Centennial hockey as a program."
One newcomer who you can expect to make a difference is Stephanie Sachs, a sophomore on the forward line.
Centennial will kick off its season by hosting a tournament Sept. 1.
2011 record: 11-0; 18-1 (2A state champion)
Top players: Seniors Emily Russo (M) and Danielle Baker (F); juniors Morgan Philie (M), Stephanie Asher (F) and Amanda Hoyt (GK); sophomore Megan Taylor (F)
The scoop: The Class 2A state champion graduated eight seniors. Not only did they lose Parker and Olson, but they also lost powerhouses Meagan Guthrie (20 goals, 14 assists) and Meghan Milani (19 goals, 14 assists). The losses are tough, but they were not the only talent on the team.
Returning will be Junior Olympian Philie, a three-year starter and an integral part of Glenelg's offensive corner unit. Baker and Asher will anchor the forward line. Asher, an offensive powerhouse in her own right had 21 goals and three assists last season. Hoyt, a keeper, returns after allowing only eight goals.
Taylor will be new to a starting role, but she is not new to the varsity. "I expect her to be an impact player," coach Ginger Kincaid said.
Spectators can expect the Gladiators to be a strong team once again. According to Kincaid, "We should be fast with a lot of very skilled players trying to three-peat as state champions."
2011 record: 0-11; 0-13
Top players: Seniors Shannon Burt (GK) and Nicky Gardes (M); junior Hadiya Hewitt (F).
The scoop: The Bears are recovering from a tough season last year and are hopeful about what they bring to the table in 2012. They are returning Burt, their starting keeper, who is a strong leader and has been diligent in off-season practice. Gardes will move to the center position and Hewitt is their leading scorer from last season.
With only 16 players on the roster every player will have the opportunity to be an impact player.
When asked to describe her team second-year coach Terry Smith said, "Diligence, dedication, and determination [with] a willingness to work hard on the field. Leadership from seniors has evolved early this year which will be key in developing our cohesiveness and strength on the field."
2011 record: 8-3; 9-4
Top players: Seniors Courtney Barnwell (M), Casey White (M) and Katie Wilkinson (D).
The scoop: In the last few years Howard has proven to be a solid, strong team in county play. Several players play together at the club level, which will aid cohesiveness on the field. The Lions' talent and leadership will be found in the middies and backs. Barnwell has phenomenal stick skills and White has a rocket for a drive. Wilkinson will anchor the back as the center defender. Looking to break out will be junior keeper Ali Jakubek. Coach Kristen Vance said Jakubek "will be hard to get past."
The team will be rebuilding mainly on the forward line. They graduated their two leading scorers, however, with some realignment of mids to forwards, the Lions are not short on heart or talent.
2011 record: 3-8; 6-10
Top players: Seniors McKenzie Williams (F) and Faith Hahn (D); junior Jess Bates (M).
The scoop: "We are a small family. Small in numbers, but very close" coach Rashmi Bhanot said. The Lightning's leaders are not terribly loud, but their presence is seen on the field in what they do. The four seniors are ready to make this the best year of Lightning hockey in recent history. Leading the way will be Bates, a year-round player with a power hit, Williams, a quick stick on the forward line, and patient Hahn bringing up the back.
A noticeable loss to graduation was goalie Taylor Burfeind. In true team spirit junior Nicole Cote, a former field player, has stepped up to take on that role. She is eager to learn and ready to fight to keep the ball out of her end of the field.
2011 record: 9-2; 12-4
Top players: Seniors Nicole Leaf (F/M), Kate Nelson (M/D), Rylie Whiting (M/D) and Brooke Sharbaugh (M/D); juniors Sophie Hamilton (GK) and Jenna Kerr (F).
The scoop: The combination of veterans with plenty of rising talent will set the Mustangs in a position to contest the coveted top spot in the county. Graduation left two holes in their forward line, however, Kerr and Leaf, both returning starters, will provide the leadership needed to guide the new starters.
Looking to help will be sophomores Katie Berdy and Maddie Courtney appearing on the forward and midfield lines. Hamilton will be another impact player. She is a year-round player who is aggressive and confident in the circle. The team as a whole will be a force within the county. This year they bring "experience, power, versatility and teamwork" to the table according to coach Stacie Gado.
2011 record: 8-3; 13-6
Top players: Seniors Samantha Brookhart (F), Lindsey Dewey (D) and Maddy Fisher (GK); junior Tianna Wallpher (F).
The scoop: Last year's 3A state finalists are hungry to return to the title game and they may just have the talent to take them there. They graduated four, but are returning the bulk of their skill. Wallpher, Dewey, and Fisher were all first-team all-county selections last year.
There are some holes that newcomers will need to fill. Those newcomers, coach Jeannette Ireland said. "have a lot to learn."
Also new to the team is an exchange student from Germany bringing a fun and different perspective to the season. Ireland said, "This is a new and exciting experience for us."
Mt. Hebron will host a tournament for the first time on Sept. 8.
2011 record: 1-10; 2-11
Top players: Seniors Emma Brand (M), Meg Minarcin (F/M) and Celine Manneville (GK).
The scoop: Starting her third year as varsity coach, Nikki Trunzo is positive about what will come for Oakland Mills this year. The Scorpions only graduated two players and are returning leadership in Brand and Minarcin, both three-year starters.
Up and coming will be sophomores Maggie Zuelsdorf on defense and Christina Devine in the midfield. Trunzo believes both will make an immediate impact.
"Working with young, low numbers, Oakland Mills is very determined and working hard to be competitive and better our record from last year," Trunzo said.
As the school year begins, the JV team does not yet have a full squad. The girls they have, however, are "very coachable and positive," according to Trunzo.
2011 record: 3-8; 4-11
Top players: Seniors Olivia Lynch (GK), Nicole Sullivan (F) and Alexandra Barrett (D); junior Shayna Tiller (M).
The scoop: The Gators graduated nine players in 2011. This year's 15-player team is a young team. Looking to lead will be Sullivan, the only returning player who tallied a goal last season. Barrett and Lynch will anchor the back with patience and communication.
There are a number of players new to varsity that coach Lindsay Beil expects to make an immediate impact. Junior Allison Costenbader, sophomore Emily Blanchard and freshman Carly Clarke will be found in the midfield. All bring stick skills and tenacity that will aid in Reservoir's fight to better its record.
This is Beil's first year as the varsity coach. She was the JV coach in 2011. When asked about her team, Beil said, "Our team is small in numbers but has speed on the front line and has a strong midfield. We are in a unique situation this year where we have more girls who are natural midfield players."
That's a good problem to have in a sport where the game is battled between the 25s.
2011 record: 8-3; 10-4
Top players: Seniors Kat Varga (F) and Leyla Balimtas (M).
The scoop: The turnover trend finds itself at River Hill, too. The Hawks graduated 10 seniors. Most difficult to replace will be Pauline Shih who is continuing her career at Miami of Ohio. There were also two juniors who did not return from last year's squad. The vacancies open up 12 spots for players, new and old to shine.
New players that veteran coach Shelly Chamness predicts will be significant contributors are sophomores Angie Arensmeier (F) and Kendall Stull (D) as well as juniors Sierra Kelly (GK) and Dani Schwab (M).
One constant is Kat Varga. The second team all-state selection has high expectations for herself and this year's team. Chamness is optimistic as well. "We have speed at every position and one of the fastest and toughest defenses I've had even though they are new starters this year."
2011 record: 3-8; 3-10
Top players: Senior Cathy Zhu (M); junior Krina Sudduth (GK); sophomore Bianca Hockensmith (D)
The scoop: Coming off the most successful season since 2003, the Wildecats are hoping to keep that momentum going. They will look to Zhu in the midfield to be the catalyst. Sudduth was pulled up mid-season last year and coach Lindsey Startt is "excited to see what she can do this year with a season under her belt." Also eager to make a difference will be freshman Bridget Cavanaugh who, according to Startt, "plays with a confidence and strength that I have rarely seen in a freshman."
The 18 players are a dedicated group who has more drive and focus than the teams in recent history. "They seem to have a more determined attitude and are working hard," Startt said.
Glenelg Country School
2011 record: 5-4-2; 7-8-2
Top players: Seniors Nicole Rieu (M), Hannah Harbold (M), Kevyn Jorgenson (D) and Sarah Bates (GK); juniors Hannah Veater (F), Lauren Smith (F) and Mallory Pappas (D).
The scoop: The Dragons are coming off a rebuilding season. A year ago coach Jessica McAdams said, "I see this as a two-year investment." It's time to yield that return.
There will be a void left by Allie Pickens, who is continuing her career at Drexel. A lot of responsibility will fall on Rieu, an 2011 IAAM All Star, to make plays all over the field.
McAdams said, "The strengths of the squad is in the number of returning veteran players and the outstanding goalkeeping."
Most varsity teams are lucky to have one good keeper, two superb keepers is definitely unique. Bates is a two-time IAAM All Star, 2010 all state, a Junior Olympian and Futures Elite player. In addition to Bates, the Dragons have junior Kelly Johnson, also a Junior Olympian. Recently Johnson was selected to the U-17 National team. Needless to say, scoring on Glenelg Country this year will be quite a feat.