Field hockey preview: The poll

1. Garrison Forest

Coach: Traci Davis. Last season: 18-1-1, ranked No. 3. Postseason: IAAM A Conference champion.

Outlook: Great chemistry led to a second IAAM A Conference title in three years. With 10 starters back, including multi-talented seniors Liza Blue, Meghan Cover and goalie Emily Cain, even a rugged schedule might not stop the Grizzlies.

2. Severna Park

Coach: Lil Shelton. Last season: 19-1, No. 1. Postseason: Class 4A state champion.

Outlook: The Falcons are pursuing their 19th state championship and Shelton's 500th career coaching victory (she has 496). With 10 starters back, including seniors Hannah Balleza, an All-Metro forward, goalies Ashley Dalisera and Leila Dixon and senior defender Sami Kiser, plus junior Madison Thomas (22 goals, 11 assists), another state title seems well within their grasp.

3. Hereford

Coach: Julia Wilson. Last season: 14-3, No. 7. Postseason: Class 3A North finalist.

Outlook: The Bulls return all 11 starters. All-Metro midfielder Courtney Haldeman leads the team's transition game. Wilson's only fear is that Hereford's strength could also be its weakness, "They're already expecting too much," she said. "We need to start fresh this season."

4. Broadneck

Coach: Jennifer Parks. Last season: 15-2-1, No. 4. Postseason: Class 4A East finalist.

Outlook: The Bruins lost five starters, but Parks is unfazed. "We're still a well-balanced, strong team," she said. Helping the Bruins will be four-year varsity players Courtney Tomchik, Meghan Eshleman, Maddie Koch and Allison Thornton.

5. Bryn Mawr

Coach: Jeanette Budzik. Last season: 15-4-1, No. 8. Postseason: IAAM A Conference quarterfinalist.

Outlook: Senior leadership is the team's strength with midfielder Creaghan Peters, All-Metro forward Paige Hanson, forward Evie Freeman and defender Bailey Johnson among the top returners. Budzik sees younger players blending in seamlessly.

6. Westminster

Coach: Mary Rivera. Last season: 16-1, No. 5. Postseason: Class 4A state semifinalist.

Outlook: The Owls seem stronger with each passing year. Nine starters return, including senior goalie Emily Colliflower, senior quad-captain midfielder Ally Moody and sophomore Megan Macera (12 goals, two assists), who was the team's second-leading scorer.

7. South River

Coach: Katie Corcoran. Last season: 12-4, No. 6. Postseason: Class 4A East semifinalist.

Outlook: The Seahawks will rebuild their defense but anticipate a strong attack and midfield with seniors Brooke Griffin and Kaitlin Maloy returning. Senior goalie Emily Melanson (84 percent save rate) will anchor the developing defense.

8. Fallston

Coach: Megan Grant. Last season: 19-1, No. 2. Postseason: Class 3A state champion.

Outlook: The Cougars are in transition with a new coach and just five starters returning. But with 11 seniors, including forwards Caitlin Dempsey and Jenn Ward, Fallston will have an experienced attack.

9. St. Mary's

Coach: Becca Horn. Last season: 16-7, No. 13. Postseason: IAAM A Conference semifinalist.

Outlook: The offense is intact, and senior Lyndsey Munoz (seven shutouts and the team Most Valuable Player) is back in goal to help four new defensive starters, who all played last season.

10. Archbishop Spalding

Coach: Leslee Brady. Last season: 14-7-1, No. 10. Postseason: IAAM A Conference finalist.

Outlook: The Cavaliers lost 12 seniors but have seven starters returning and plenty of younger standouts, such as juniors Andrea Scardina and Christine Galligan. Senior forward Jess Bates, out last season with a back injury, rejoins senior starters Emily Klug, Emma Spencer and Mary Kate Roth.

11. Century

Coach: Gayle Taylor. Last season: 14-5, unranked. Postseason: Class 2A West finalist.

Outlook: Young, gifted and experienced is the way Taylor describes the Knights. The team has eight returning starters but just three seniors, including forward Megan Quigg. Junior Jill Remenapp (eight goals, 15 assists) anchors a strong midfield.

12. Winters Mill

Coach: Carli Swift. Last season: 13-4, No. 11. Postseason: Class 2A state finalist.

Outlook: Having lost five starters, the Falcons are looking for the glue that will hold them together. They have a lot of skill, with midfielder Amalie Trentzsch, forward Kelly Spieker and goalie Katie Horn returning.

13. Glenelg

Coach: Ginger Kincaid. Last season: 14-3-1, No. 9. Postseason: Class 1A state finalist.

Outlook: Tradition and confidence go a long way, and they could be key ingredients for the young but talented Gladiators. Sophomore Alyssa Parker, who earned first-team All-Howard County honors as a freshman, will anchor the midfield.

14. McDonogh

Coach: Halyna Fried. Last season: 18-1, No. 15. Postseason: IAAM B Conference champion.

Outlook: With 14 varsity players returning, the Eagles expect another fine season. Team strengths are experience, the passing game and camaraderie. Seniors Kim Hilson, Hannah Deoul and Christie Hart provide a strong midfield attack.

15. Towson

Coach: Holly West. Last season: 10-6, unranked. Postseason: Class 3A North semifinalist.

Outlook: Eight returning starters will be joined by an influx of talented freshmen, including two starters (Maggie Coccagna and Sara Beach).

OTHERS CONSIDERED: Atholton (14-4, No. 12), Dulaney (9-6, No. 14), Loch Raven (12-3, unranked), Notre Dame Prep (7-10-1, unranked), Roland Park (2-13, unranked), South Carroll (10-9, unranked)

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