1. Archbishop Spalding

Coach: Bob Dieterle. Last season: 20-0-1, ranked No. 1.

Postseason: Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champion.

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Outlook: Champions in three of the past four seasons — including the past two — the program has established an impressive standard in the area's most challenging league. With senior All-Metro players Maggie Morrison (forward) and Jocelyn McCoy (goalkeeper) returning and a talented cast around them, the Cavaliers are primed to maintain their lofty status.

2. McDonogh

Coach: Harry Canellakis. Last season: 13-2, No. 5.

Postseason: IAAM A Conference semifinalist.

Outlook: There's not a lot of drop-off among the handful of elite teams in the talented IAAM, and the Eagles appear to be Spalding's toughest challenger. In addition to having the area's most talented player — two-time All-Metro junior forward Ashley Spivey — they have a capable mix of returning players and promising newcomers to make a strong push for the conference crown.

3. Mercy

Coach: Doug Pryor. Last season: 12-5-3, No. 2.

Postseason: IAAM A Conference finalist.

Outlook: The Magic made an inspired run to the title game last year with a hard-working group that played as one. With a good chunk of talent returning — led by forward Alexis Prior-Brown — and some promising newcomers in the fold, first-year coach Pryor is hoping for similar success in 2010.

4. Severna Park

Coach: Todd Clark. Last season: 13-4, No. 8.

Postseason: Class 4A East regional semifinalist.

Outlook: The Falcons took a significant hit when All-Metro midfielder Gabby Moreno was lost for the season with a knee injury. But they have enough talent — led by a strong senior class featuring Maryland-bound forward Marisa Kresge — to get the nod as the early favorite in the always-formidable Anne Arundel County league.

5. John Carroll

Coach: Gary Lynch. Last season: 12-6-2, No. 11.

Postseason: IAAM A Conference semifinalist.