Player of the Year: Jessica Knight, Perry Hall
The talented senior closed out a superb four-year career by leading the No. 11 Gators (11-2-1) to the Baltimore County championship with a dominating presence on the field. The first-team All-State pick scored 15 goals and added 11 assists despite the obvious attention she received from opposing defenses, a result of her fine play in her first three varsity seasons. Knight was fast and strong to the ball and even stronger with it, able to slip behind defenses or break down an opponent one-on-one to finish off scoring chances. She finished her career with 61 goals and 31 assists. After Knight scored three first-half goals in a 5-0 win over Parkville to wrap up a fourth straight appearance in the Baltimore County title game, Perry Hall coach Brad Kressman said: "We wouldn't be close to where we are without Jessica -- it's that simple. The two things that stand out the most with Jessica are, first, her ability to take people on in the open field -- I think it's second to none. And, secondly, she has a major impact in every game because you always have to know where she is at all times." During a season filled with highlights and multiple-goal games, the Richmond-bound Knight had a two-goal, one-assist effort in a 3-0 win over Class 2A state champ Eastern Tech and also scored a tying goal against McDonogh with five minutes left in a 2-1 overtime win.
Coach of the Year: Paul Austin, C. Milton Wright
With 14 players returning from last year's state semifinal team, the fifth-year coach was well aware of the talent he had to work with and made the most of it in guiding the No. 3 Mustangs to their first Class 4A state crown. Austin would regularly use 18 players, using the early part of the season to identify roles and develop an environment that had healthy competition and a team-first approach. "By midseason, we settled in with a lot of flexibility and the players understood and wanted to work hard for playing time," said Austin, who is 53-15-3 in his five seasons. "Consistently playing 18, we could see in the second half that we would wear teams down and we were the fresher team." The Mustangs (15-2) overcame a tough postseason path to claim the title, knocking off Kenwood, 1-0, in the regional final before getting past Eleanor Roosevelt on penalty kicks to reach the title game. They completed the journey with a 1-0 win over defending champion Walt Whitman, scoring the winning goal in the second half while maintaining a strong effort on defense throughout. Austin, who led the Mustangs to the Harford County title in 2003 and the first two Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference crowns, praised the tireless work of his assistants, Len Nicewonger and Brent Ritz.
Lily Boleyn, Centennial
Relentless and crafty in the offensive third of the field, the talented senior made the most of her chances to lead the No. 7 Eagles (12-2-1) to a second straight Howard County crown. Boleyn, Howard's Player of the Year and a first-team All-State pick, finished the season with 13 goals and five assists as the Eagles finished 8-0-1 in county play. The Clemson-bound Boleyn went to the IMG Soccer Academy in Bradenton, Fla., during her junior year to improve her soccer skills. She returned to Centennial this season with the Eagles in a rebuilding mode after losing several standouts to graduation and played a big role in helping the team maintain its lofty standards.
Alissa Bourne, Glenelg
Smart, aggressive and highly skilled, the junior sweeper had the necessary tools to anchor the Gladiators' back line. A center midfielder on her club team, Bourne read the game well and had a knack for getting to the ball first and getting the Gladiators started on offense. The second-team All-State pick constantly frustrated opposing attacks and had a strong foot on clears when needed. Her fluid and confident play was a big reason the Gladiators posted 10 shutouts, and she also contributed offensively with two goals and eight assists. Glenelg opened the season with seven straight shutouts, not allowing a goal in the first 636 minutes of its season.
Kristen Carr, Mercy
Mercy coach Albert Oni will have a tough job finding a replacement for his senior standout, especially considering she often played every field position over the course of a game. Carr's versatility was only one asset she brought to the Magic in her fine four-year career. Wherever she played -- mostly defense, but also in the middle and up top -- she brought a high work ethic, superb ball skills and the constant ability to change the complexion of a game. The first-team All-State selection and Baltimore City's Player of the Year finished the season with four goals and two assists.
Kim Dubansky, McDonogh
The four-year starter was thefoundation on defense and also ascoring threat on set pieces to give theEagles consistently fine two-way play.She handled her primary duty as theteam's central defender with poiseand hard work, keeping the back lineorganized and winning the one-ononebattles along with any 50-50balls. Dubansky, a first-team All-Stateselection, also made a majorcontribution offensively by finishingwith eight goals and eight assists -- anumber of her goals coming offheaders from corner kicks. Also astandout lacrosse player, she haschosen to play that sport at JohnsHopkins next year.
Melissa Gomes, John Carroll
Struggling to find offense early in theseason, John Carroll coach GaryLynch moved his junior standout fromthe midfield to the front line, andeverything clicked from there as theNo. 1 Patriots (14-6) went on tosuccessfully defend theirInterscholastic Athletic Association ofMaryland A Conference crown. Afterthe program's most prolific classgraduated last year, the Patriotslooked to Gomes to fill the voids leftbehind both in leadership and inproduction on the field. Sheresponded in a big way, finishing theseason with nine goals and nine assistswhile stepping up with an endlesswork rate that set an example toteammates. In the Patriots' threeplayoff wins, Gomes scored four goalsand had two assists.
Brittany Hadaway, Institute of Notre Dame
The repeat first-team All-Metroselection brought rare qualities to themiddle of the field with the ability toplay physically and with finesse as theIndians' centerpiece. Also named afirst-team NSCAAF Adidas All-American, the four-year starter andsenior captain led the team with sixgoals and eight assists, and wasequally valuable tracking back ondefense. The solid two-way playerbrought size, speed, tenacity andsound tactical play in every minute sheplayed. Hadaway will stay close tohome with plans to play for Towsonnext year.
Katie Kolb, C. MiltonWright
The four-year starter closed out a finecareer in stellar fashion, leading theNo. 3 Mustangs (15-2) to their firstClass 4A state title. Kolb's seven-saveperformance in the statechampionship game -- a 1-0 win overdefending champWalt Whitman thatwas the last of her six shutouts thisseason -- appropriately summed upthe work she put in this season. Smart,aggressive and in complete charge ofthe penalty area, Kolb finished hercareer with 28 shutouts and made615 saves. Kolb, who plans to playsoftball in college, was at her best inthe pressure situations, especially inthe Mustangs' playoff run. Aftercoming away with a 1-0 shutoutagainst No. 10 Kenwood in theregional final, she made the decisivesave in a shootout win over EleanorRoosevelt in the state semifinals.
Christine Nairn, Archbishop Spalding
A center midfielder by trade, the Cavaliers' talented sophomore became one of the metro area's most dynamic strikers with gifted ball skills and a precise and powerful shot. The first-team All-State selection was the offensive catalyst of a Spalding team that went through the demanding Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference undefeated until the championship game, which ended with John Carroll winning on penalty kicks. Despite drawing constant double teams, Nairn was able to work her way through to score a team-high 16 goals -- seven of which were game-winners -- along with 10 assists as the Cavaliers finished the season with a 17-3 mark.
Christine Sadowski, Kenwood
As the Kenwood program has steadily grown over the past three years, so has the strong play of Sadowski. Always to the ball first and smart and crafty with it, the first-team All-State performer brought a consistently high level of play to the middle of the field for the No. 10 Bluebirds. The junior scored seven goals, added five assists and was a hard-working leader as the Bluebirds reached the regional championship game. The two-time All-Baltimore County performer has scored 27 goals and added 24 assists in her first three seasons of varsity.
Erika Theisen, River Hill
With fine instincts and the skills and athleticism to match, the junior standout continued to take her game to a higher level in her third season as a starter. Dangerous on the ball with a cannon shot, Theisen dared defenders to shut her down. Few had success as she finished the season with a team-high 15 goals to go with six assists. The first-team All-State selection played a big role for the No. 4 Hawks (12-2) in their run to the Class 3A state semifinals. Despite the attention she draws from opposing defenses that make it a priority to contain her, Theisen has increased her goal production each season, totaling 32 in her three seasons to go with 17 assists.
Samantha Young, Severna Park
When the No. 6 Falcons (13-1-3) had trouble controlling the middle of the field, coach Gary Lam moved his talented junior from her usual forward spot to the midfield. Problem solved. Young, Anne Arundel County's Player of the Year, was a dominant player wherever she played, controlling the middle when asked and also providing scoring punch with eight goals and five assists to lead the Falcons to a share of the Anne Arundel crown. A physical presence with high skills, Young also earned first-team All-State honors and will go into her senior season with 36 goals and 20 assists as a three-year starter.
Annesia Faulkner St. Vincent Pallotti, junior, forward
Greta Houlihan C. Milton Wright, senior, forward
Annie Lebherz Liberty, senior, forward
Julia Bouchelle Notre Dame Prep, sophomore, midfield
Katie Hertsch Winters Mill, senior, midfield
Danielle Rosanova Centennial, senior, midfield
Ashley Singer Kenwood, junior, midfield
Kaitlyn Gambrell John Carroll, junior, defense
Amanda Pappas Chesapeake-AA, junior, defense
Emma Santucci Notre Dame Prep, senior, defense
Karen Blocker Arch. Spalding, sophomore, goalie
Kristen Sample Seton Keough, senior, goalie
Note: Teams selected by Glenn Graham after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun