Player of the Year: Kelly Hammond, St. Mary's
Some players are great scorers, others excellent defenders. Some players are simply leaders. Very few are all three. But in essence, that was St. Mary's senior Kelly Hammond this season, which is why she was selected The Sun's 2001 Metro Player of the Year.
As a junior, Hammond endured a frustrating season in which she was limited because of a torn hip flexor muscle. But as a senior, Hammond dominated in the middle for the 21-1-1 Saints, scoring 17 goals go to with seven assists. No stat, however, could properly illustrate Hammond's importance.
One coach called her "a vacuum cleaner on defense," because she sucked up any ball that came her way. Said St. Mary's coach Jerry Tobin, "If the ball was in the midfield, we knew that most of the time she was going to have it and go the other way."
Much was made of the Saints' wealth of talent this season, but it was Hammond who stepped forward to lead them, making sure egos didn't get in the way of wins as the Saints finished the year ranked No. 5 nationally.
St. Mary's outscored opponents 82-13 on the year, but some of its most timely goals came on headers by Hammond, including a clutch goal to beat No. 2 McDonogh. Though Hammond broke her collarbone the night before the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship game, teammates credited her pre-game speech as the motivation that led to a 2-0 win. Selected as a high school All-American, Hammond will play at Virginia next season.
Coach of the Year: Brad Kressman, Perry Hall
The Gators may have started the season unranked, but they proved they belonged among the area's elite teams, going 15-1-1 to finish the year ranked No. 6. Perry Hall's only loss came in the Class 4A state championship against an excellent Thomas Johnson team, and the game was much closer than the 3-1 final score might indicate. After losing a number of quality players to graduation from a team that went 10-2-1 a year ago, Kressman was faced with the prospect of starting only four seniors. For many teams, that might mean a rebuilding year, but for Perry Hall, it was a blessing. Ten sophomores started or got signifficant time, and the results were magical. Perry Hall won its first Baltimore County championship, defeating Hereford 1-0, and advanced to the state final for only the second time in school history. After tying Fallston 1-1 in the third game of the season, the Gators won 13 straight. Until the state championship, Perry Hall didn't give up more than one goal in a game all season. (The Gators gave up only eight all year.) The result was a lot of close games, which Perry Hall always managed to find a way to win. Kressman is reluctant to take any of the credit, passing it all on to his team. But his decision to play an extra midfielder in the back and rely on Perry Hall's aggressive defense may have been the key to the Gators' best season.
Ali Andrzejewski, McDonogh
So electric, so much fun to watch, Andrzejewski was the best and most dangerous offensive player in the area this season. Her 20 goals and 15 assists were down from 28 goals a year ago, but Andrzejewski, who played midfield for the No. 2 Eagles (16-5), got everyone involved in McDonogh's high-powered offensive attack and still led the area in scoring. Selected as a high school All-American, Andrzejewski owns an impressive resume that includes three straight years as a first-team All-Metro selection, two years on the Under-17 national team, two selections to the Olympic Development Program Elite Soccer Program all-star team, and three years as a first-team all-state selection. As a leader, Andrzejewski had few equals. The senior often rallied the Eagles with passionate speeches, then led by example, scoring twice in two key victories over No. 4 John Carroll. Andrzejewski will play for Maryland next season.
Hollis Botti, Hereford
No other player in Baltimore County public school history was more effective at finding the net than Botti, who holds the career scoring record with 80 goals. That might have seemed in doubt a year ago when the two-time second-team All-Metro striker needed surgery to repair a torn knee ligament, but the senior returned in fine form this year, scoring 18 goals along with two assists for the Bulls (13-2-1). Though she drew all kinds of attention from opposing defenses, Botti still was able to use a combination of speed, skill and poise to stand out as one of the area's most effective pure scorers.
Zoey Bouchelle, Notre Dame Prep
Fast and skilled, Bouchelle exhibited a real feel for the game in only her second season of high school soccer, scoring 11 goals and posting 10 assists as a striker for the Blazers. A former Olympic Development Program regional pool player, Bouchelle was a force no matter where she played, and earned the reputation as one of the IAAM's best passers. Her ball-handling skills left more than a few defenders frozen, and she was also very good at moving without the ball. Though NDP struggled at times, Bouchelle, a second-team All-Metro selection a year ago, kept things together and nearly helped the Blazers pull off an upset in a 2-0 loss to McDonogh.
Megan Buescher, River Hill
Few defenders affect the game like Buescher, a repeat first-team All-Metro selection from a year ago. Though she almost always marked the other team's best player, the junior was a consistent threat to score for the Hawks; her seven goals and six assists helped River Hill win its third consecutive Class 3A state title. In the championship, her first-half header proved to be the game-winner in a 3-0 victory over Franklin. Of course, Buescher also stood out once again because of her tremendous throw-in, which is unrivaled in its effectiveness. Buescher's throw-in was the key factor in the Hawks' 2-0 win over St. Mary's when she assisted on the game-winner to Audrey Cronin. She also scored a goal off a throw during a 2-2 tie against Hammond when the ball went off the fingers of the goalkeeper.
Mary Beth Creed, McDonogh
Creed's game wasn't about flash, just consistency and results. A quiet leader, the senior central midfielder was a two-time first team all-City/County selection, and her skills complemented Ali Andrzejewski's talents perfectly. With the ability to send the ball both short and long, Creed could jump-start McDonogh's offense from anywhere, and it reflected in her 19 assists. With 10 goals, Creed also demonstrated the knack for finishing, and she consistently won balls in the air for the Eagles. She will play soccer next season at Delaware.
Erin Dubina, Severna Park
A repeat first-team All-Metro selection, Dubina was once again one of the area's most dangerous offensive players despite playing for the defensive-oriented Falcons. Her seven goals and nine assists helped lead Severna Park to a second straight Anne Arundel County title. The senior midfielder was a important leader for the Falcons, and earned a reputation as an excellent finisher, especially with her back to the net. Dubina will play for Wisconsin next season.
Ashly Kennedy, St. Mary's
One of the biggest reasons St. Mary's dominated defensively, Kennedy was everywhere the ball was, helping the Saints hold opponents to 13 goals. In two shutouts of McDonogh, Kennedy was outstanding, taking the ball away from the opposition countless times and sending it the other way in transition. Only a junior, Kennedy has been named to the All-Anne Arundel County team three times and is a repeat All-Metro selection from a year ago.
Mary Key, St. Mary's
Don't let Key's size fool you. There were few - if any -- players more effective at putting the ball in the net. The 5-foot-2 junior striker was a fearless header inside the box, and had tremendous finishing skills, leading St. Mary's in points with 19 goals and six assists. A three-year varsity starter, Key came up big in the biggest moment of the season for the Saints, scoring the game-winner in the IAAM A Conference championship game by redirecting a pass from teammate Sarah Sample into the net to spark a 2-0 win.
Julie Napolitano, Mount Hebron
A vocal and emotional leader, Napolitano was a first team All-Metro selection a year ago, and earned Howard County Co-Player of the Year honors by leading an over-achieving Vikings squad to the 3A East regional final. Napolitano's 18 goals and 10 assists led the county in scoring. The senior is a member of the U-18 national team, as well as the Bethesda Fury, which won a club national championship. An aggressive defender who won balls in the air and went full speed at all times, Napolitano has outstanding ball skills and can create on the fly. She will play for Virginia next season.
Megan Reidy, McDonogh
A solid defender with size and speed, Reidy anchored the Eagles' defense in the back, drawing the toughest assignments and always holding her own. She won 85 percent of the one-on-one, 50-50 and head balls she challenged for. The junior's effectiveness was one of the main reasons McDonogh was able to post 11 shutouts on the year despite playing one of the area's toughest schedules. Reidy scored only one goal, but it was one of the biggest of the season for the Eagles. She snuck in to put away the game-winner against John Carroll in the final minutes of regulation in the IAAM tournament semifinals.
Tirza Ridgely, Westminster
The Carroll County Player of the Year was one of two starters who played on Westminster's 1999 4A state championship team, and that experience showed as the senior was dominant in the midfield for the Owls. Equally skilled on offense and defense, Ridgely, a three-time All-County selection, led Westminster in scoring for the second straight season with 12 goals and six assists. She also came up big in big games, scoring the game-winning goal in victories over Urbana, South Carroll, Broadneck and Hereford.
Sarah Sample, St. Mary's
On any other team, Sample's size, speed and feel for the game might have made her the team's leading scorer. But with so much talent on the No. 1-ranked Saints, the 6-foot junior developed into an effective defensive stopper who could choose her spots on offense. An excellent leaper, Sample scored three of her four goals on headers. She took all the corner kicks for St. Mary's, and her excellent placement and timing helped her finish with 13 assists. In the IAAM championship, Sample was the most dominant player on the field, and she assisted on the winning goal to teammate Mary Key.
Kerry VanShura, John Carroll
No one was harder to score upon than John Carroll, and the biggest reason was VanShura, the Patriots senior captain. Great speed and smarts allowed VanShura to stick to opposing defenders like Velcro, and her ability to take the ball away was as good as any defender in the area. In a narrow 1-0 loss to McDonogh, VanShura shadowed Ali Andrzejewski as well as anyone had all year. VanShura could also could also find the net when the Patriots needed. She scored a clutch goal in a 2-1 victory over Class 2A champ Centennial. A repeat first-team All-Metro selection, VanShura will play lacrosse for Notre Dame's Fighting Irish next year.
Tara Zammichieli, Hammond
Any goalie can be great when it doesn't count, but the true test of a keeper is how she reacts under pressure when the team needs her most. No one was better in those situations this year than Zammichieli. A talented all-around athlete with excellent hands and anticipation, Zammichieli, a three-year senior starter, recorded 152 saves and posted eight shutouts to help the surprising 15-2-1 Bears win the Howard County title. However, Zammichieli's true worth surfaced in the playoffs when she made four saves on penalty kicks to help Hammond defeat Atholton and Middletown to advance to the 2A West regional final. Also an excellent basketball player and softball player, Zammichieli started 40 consecutive games in net for the Bears.
Kim Cooper Bel Air Senior Forward
Kelly O'Connell Seton Keough Sophomore Forward
Jamie Goertler River Hill Junior Midfield
Melissa Hornfeck Arundel Sophomore Midfield
Hayley Siegel Centennial Freshman Midfield
Brittany McKew Perry Hall Sophomore Midfield
Sam Test Centennial Senior Midfield
Kelly Thomas Wilde Lake Senior Midfield
Melissa Workman Hammond Senior Midfield
Christin Krejcik Loch Raven Senior Defense
Morgan Russell John Carroll Senior Defense
Megan Ryan St. Mary's Senior Defense
Christie Sikorski Mount de Sales Junior Defense
Jacque Sutphin South River Junior Goalkeeper
Mariel Wilner McDonogh Senior Goalkeeper
Note: The All-Metro girls soccer teams were selected by Kevin Van Valkenburg after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.