Similar to the varsity squads above them, Howard County’s junior varsity fall teams returned to play this spring after having their originally scheduled seasons postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. While the number of games on the schedule and size of many rosters were smaller than during a typical year, there were still plenty of standout performances that led to growth both individually and as a team.
In an effort to provide these athletes with some deserved recognition, we contacted each school through their athletic administration to find out about some of the highlights and top performers from the fall season. Here’s what we heard back:
Centennial got off to a great start to the year, increasing the number of players in the program from 23 in 2019 to 28 in 2021, and performing well in an opening scrimmage against Reservoir. In that first matchup with the Gators, freshman quarterback Sammy Klien connected on a long touchdown pass to sophomore Oliver Kelm and the defense — led by Matt Toth, Andrew Lee, Carter Watson, Jayden Marcus, Jack Stachera — pitched a shutout.
Unfortunately, Klien suffered a season-ending ACL injury at the end of the scrimmage. His absence, along with Watson and Marcus being called up to be starters on the varsity team, forced the team to make some adjustments. It took some time, but the Eagles showed great resiliency.
The highlight of the season came in week 5 of the regular season in a rematch against Reservoir. An excellent defensive performance helped the team secure another shutout. Toth, Lee, Stachera, Darius Wilson, Martin Dedrick, Tyler Longwell and Jackson Roberts all were standouts in the win.
“This game demonstrated the hard work the team has put in and provided the players confidence that they can compete and win football games in Howard County,” varsity coach Billy Martin said. “The ninth and tenth graders at Centennial have an opportunity to develop into a quality football team moving forward. There is a lot of potential here and all of these players will contribute to success at the varsity level in the future. It is a great group of kids”
There were no victories for Hammond, but there were still plenty of positives to build upon moving forward.
The Golden Bears battled through having just one returning starter from the previous season, faced a two-week shutdown due to coronavirus protocols and had several players not on the field because of injuries. Still the team came to compete on a weekly basis, with several strong leaders keeping the team positive.
Alexis Cuevas starred on defense, while J’Marcus Hines and Jonathan Neypes stepped up in huge ways to fill in as role models for the young squad.
“I was extremely proud of how the kids managed to stay focused and wanted to get better,” coach Jaleel Moore said. “The kids battled and worked extremely hard all season long, but most importantly they had a lot of fun. It was great to see the student-athletes out there alongside one another being coached by a great group of mentors. I’m exited to see the young kids bounce back in the fall.”
The season for Howard (1-4) was highlighted by an opening-week win over Reservoir.
Sophomore Blake Stolarik was a team captain and leader of the team from his center and nose tackle position. Sophomore Kyle Betenga led the team in tackles and tackles for loss, anchoring the defense and ultimately being called up to varsity before the end of the year.
Long Reach lost a tough 6-0 game against Reservoir in its season opener on a last-minute touchdown, but used that experience to propel the team to win three of its last four to finish the season above .500 at 3-2.
The lessons learned from that first game were on immediate display in the team’s second game against Howard. Up a score late in the fourth quarter, Long Reach stopped the Lions on four straight plays after a first-and-goal to win the contest. “The feeling that our athletes felt after that game to fight in a close game and come out victorious really helped build confidence in our young team,” coach Tom Montag said.
Later in the season, after a loss to Glenelg, the Lightning came from behind in the second half to earn a win over Wilde Lake. Freshman cornerback Jayden Thompson made a key interception on fourth down inside his own red zone and returned it over 95 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to start the comeback.
The team continued the momentum in a final week win over Centennial.
Sophomore quarterback Tyree Roberts led the offense through the air and also on the ground as needed. The trio of Jayden Baxter, Matthew Brown and Thompson all served as quality wide receivers and important members of the secondary on defense.
Sophomore Shaun Gorham Jr. made lots of big time tackles for loss from his defensive end position, while freshmen Donald Strong III and Ayden Keys-Fortune were two-way linemen who excelled on both sides of the ball.
Marriotts Ridge came back from a two-week shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic and showed great improvement as the season went along on its way to a 1-3 record. The team defeated Atholton and also played close games against Mt. Hebron and Oakland Mills.
“The team worked extremely hard this season. Given all the uniqueness of this season, we were able to improve athletic abilities, our passion for the game and have tons of fun,” coach Douglas Smith said. “This was a great group of young men, and in my first year as JV Head Coach, I could not have had a greater group of dedicated players and assistant coaches.”
Jack Shutty was named Team MVP, proving to be an elusive running back and a playmaker from his safety position. Marquette Pogue was a dominate defensive pursuer, while also serving as a speedy and physical running back. Casey Shea was another great open field tackler at strong safety.
Outside linebacker and offensive lineman Boston Brown was named the Mustangs’ Rookie of the Year, while Casey Sullins preserved through multiple injuries to be the team’s best offensive lineman.
Boasting a balanced roster of 38 players — 22 of which had never played football before — Mt. Hebron outscored its opponents by a 108-34 margin on the way to a 3-1 record.
But coach Joe Armstead said the true measure of success went far beyond wins and losses, instead building behind the mantra of “One Team, One Family.” The Vikings were led by sophomore team captains Tyler Goladay and Clay Lancelotta.
“This team grew as a family each and every day and it was reflected in how hard they worked, pushed themselves and each other, and the respect and comradery that developed during the season,” Armstead said.
Drew Peperone (six touchdowns) and Aidan Hauf (four) led the Mt. Hebron touchdown club on the season, with Cooper Stockenberg and Brett Barron also finding the endzone multiple times. Quarterback Tobie Lewis also threw for a pair of touchdowns.
On defense, Peperone (two interceptions), Tarek Lewis (one), Stockenberg (one) and Hauf (one) were among the team leaders in takeaways.
The Vikings started the season with a 14-2 win over Marriotts Ridge and then followed that up with a 28-0 victory over rival Centennial. Then, after a tough 32-20 loss against River Hill — in a game that was tied at the half 20-20 — Mt. Hebron regrouped to earn a dominating 46-0 win over Hammond.
In that contest against the Golden Bears, Peperone had four touchdowns and was one of two players to return interceptions for scores.
Oakland Mills was one of the county’s best teams, finishing a perfect 5-0 this season.
The Scorpions were led by a hard-nosed defense that created multiple turnovers every game (13 total for the season) and only gave up on average, 56 yards against per game. Leading the defensive effort were sophomore inside linebacker Xavier Patterson (team leading 28 tackles), sophomore safety Shane King (second-leading tackler), and sophomore defensive end Chris Paris who led the team in sacks.
Offensively, the Scorpions were led by a solid offensive line that was anchored by freshman Humza Munir and sophomore tight ends Patterson and Jordan Petigny. Oakland Mills averaged 200 yds of offense per game with 175 yards on average coming on the ground.
Directing the tough ground and pound offense, was leading rusher and sophomore quarterback Cyrus Thomas Ray (5.8 yards per carry for 393 total yards and four total touchdowns) and speedy sophomore running back King (6 yards per carry for 332 total yards and seven total TDs).
Reservoir played a full six-game schedule and finished with a 1-4-1 record. The defense was the team’s strong point and kept many games close, with the group being led by linebackers Kevin Sisk, Adrian Alvarado and Jeff Weeks, defensive end Wyatt Willis, and defensive back Miles Reinders. Reinders made multiple interceptions.
On offense, Alvarado was the leader at running back to go along with strong offensive line play anchored by Julian Bond, Eli Main and Jaylen Hargrove.
“Our kids were happy to be playing football and worked hard throughout the season. Their effort and desire to get better were never in doubt,” coach Robert While said. “We are definitely excited for the future that we began building towards this season and eager to get back to work.”
After opening with a loss against Atholton, River Hill rolled off five straight victories to finish the year with a 5-1 record.
“The team responded to the loss with leadership from its sophomores,” coach Jay Hull said.
Between Bergen Remick at quarterback, MBJ Montoni and Nico Lancanshire at wing, and Ethan Burnett at super back, the Hawks averaged 250 yards on the ground per game. The offensive line, led by sophomores Colin Fowler, Jack Crown and Everett Birden, played a big role in the proficient offense as well. There were also three consistent freshmen contributors on the offensive line in Matthew Shepperd, Matt Martin and Aydin Masood. Sophomore Seyi Abbu was the team’s top receiver.
Jason Benedek was the sophomore leader of the defensive line, while Ethan Abban and Luke Kenyon were hard-hitting linebackers. The secondary unit was led by sophomore Ani Ambrosi and freshman Omar Hassan at the corners.
Dillon DeMasi, Yahia Halawa, Vishaa Gudapati and Anish Parikh were all sophomore standouts on special teams.
Wilde Lake finished with a record of 2-3, showcasing itself as a competitive team in every contest.
“Our players did exactly what we asked them to do and got better every day,” coach Scott Sorensen said.
Running backs Nazir Fell and Aiden Guyton, along with slot receiver Na’Shon Blackston, led the offensive group. Linbackers Nyema Wallace and Andrew Varga were the defensive leaders for a group that was stout all season and recorded a shutout win over Hammond.
Atholton started the season with 13 unanswered goals in the team’s first five games on the way to eventually finishing undefeated with a record of 6-0-1. The team’s toughest challenges came late in the season, with the Raiders tying Marriotts Ridge and then scoring in the final minutes to earn a 3-2 win over Glenelg.
Captains Tuscan Mulinazzi at keeper and Luke Kudwa at sweeper “formed a nearly impenetrable wall,” according to coach Charles Lidard. Erickson “Bawi” Hrin, Paul Kim and Rajendra “Ray-Ray” Khadka were the leading scorers, while Vihan Amarasighe, Francis Labarbera, and Denton Guy-Williams showed their talents as incredible playmakers throughout the season.
“These players found their rhythm and chemistry very early on by constantly encouraging one another and always maintaining a positive attitude,” Lidard said. “Although they only needed to battle back once throughout the entire season, this group of young men never lost hope in their teammates nor sight of their greatness as a unit. There is no doubt that these players will continue to do great things on and off the field.
Centennial played to a fourth-place finish with a record of 3-2-2, netting 13 goals and allowing six over the course of the season. Captains Riley Senisi and Kartik Sullivan “kept the team together throughout the season by showing a great deal of leadership on and off the field,” according to coach Brandon Basilio, who also added that the team’s wealth of talented freshmen bode well for continued growth come next fall.
While balancing the unique schedule, Glenelg had a season filled with a little bit of everything. In the end, the team was able to play all its scheduled games and had several exciting finishes.
“It was a different challenge than in the fall, with more cold and wet days, and a muddy practice field for half the season, but the boys showed up every day to compete hard and prepare for the matches,” coach Kyle Chick said. “They dealt well with the busy schedule, and performances improved as the season progressed.”
Among the top results was a 3-2 victory over Oakland Mills, with sophomore Roman Farace registering a hat trick. Chick added that even in the team’s 3-2 overtime loss against Atholton to end the season, there were still plenty of positive things to build on going forward.
In addition to Farace, other standouts on the year included sophomores Joey Samsock, Joey DeRosa, Adam Stewart, Lorenzo Rosenthal, Eshan Beg, Vincent DePasquale, Michael Murray and Guarav Sharma. Chick also said that the freshmen class showed plenty of promise as well and will be ready to hit the ground running as sophomores.
Howard was another team to finish the season undefeated with a record of 5-0-3. The team leaders were defenders Owen Lewis and Connor Kovach, midfielders Ryan Campbell and Cooper Smith, along with Cyrus Frid-Denikos at striker. Thanks to the team’s strong defensive unit, paired with the goalkeeping from BJ Brown, AJ Church, Jeremy Hahn and David Schrock, the Lions allowed just one goal against all season.
“After a long year filled with quarantining and social distancing, it was awesome to get back out on the field and play some soccer,” coach Greg Metzger said. “Even though it was much colder than we are used to at the start of the season, the whole team really enjoyed being out there with one another. There were a few games where we struggled scoring, we were still able to overcome those difficulties and score more consistently towards the end of the season to cap off another undefeated season.”
Long Reach battled through the season with a small roster, starting with 17 players and finishing the year with 13 due to a number of circumstances.
Still, the Lightning started fast with wins over Wilde Lake and Reservoir at the beginning of the season. And late in the year, in a game that was played 10-on-10 because of player availability, Long Reach showcased itself well in a hard-fought 3-2 loss against Mt. Hebron.
Captains Hassan Sharief, the leading scorer for the Lightning, Daniel Cortes, a defensive stalwart, and strong midfielder Sebastian Moscoso kept team spirits high throughout, according to coach Jeffrey Harden. Contributions from freshman standout Noah Lee, sophomore Diego Chufan and sophomore goalie Quentin Harden also played key roles in helping the team stay competitive in the face of dwindling player numbers.
There may have only been one win for Oakland Mills, but under interim coach Bryan Ringgold the team was consistently competitive.
“It was obvious that the field IQ increased on every touch. We did not achieve our goal of winning as much as planned, but we came together and built a strong connection for the fall season,” Ringgold said. “I am excited for what is to come.”
The highlight of the season with a 2-1 win over Long Reach, where Folulope Longe scored the game-winning goal with seven seconds remaining. Captain Marcos Palacios Guevara excelled “on and off the field with the team,” according to Ringgold. He also was part of an offensive group — along with striker Frantz Louis Baptiste, Longe and Danish A Malik — that never missed a game and finished the season scoring two or more goals apiece.
Marriotts Ridge got off to a fast start on the way to an undefeated record of 4-0-3 by season’s end.
Nico Manarelli and Ryan Conroy led the defense, both providing solid play at center back. They got great support from outside backs Will Lefevere, Mathew Park, Brennan Ray and Ben Kylap. Captain Kyle Samoryk controlled the middle of the field, with Connor Crossan providing support as needed. Other strong midfielders who displayed excellent teamwork were Quinn Jenkins, Kole Cotello, Eli Nebiyiu and Mathias Nebiyu.
David Lee and William Marbury were creators on the flanks, while Calebe Zeleke and Kaedin Jones were the leading scorers for the offense. Goalie Aidan Houck held things down as the last line of defense.
Andrew Smith, Dean Palmer, Josh Voland, Ben Nagiel and Barbad Zarei were supporting players of the bench who provided another dimension to the team.
“The camaraderie, skill and joy the team displayed throughout the season will make moving forward easier,” coach Paul Courtney said.
Ending on a four-game winning streak, Mt. Hebron finished the season with a record of 5-2-1.
“The team grew throughout the season even though everything was at a fast pace,” coach Kyle Farson said.
Sophomore captain Dhishan Reddy stepped up to lead the attack with eight goals on the season, while freshman Aiden Dunn was right behind him with seven goals. On the other end of the field, sophomore captain Nate Zhang anchored a solid defense.
Reservoir finished with a 3-5 record and had several close games, including going down to the wire against Mt. Hebron.
“Despite the losing record, the fellas learned quite a bit in terms of technicality as well as gaining a better understanding of the fundamentals of the game,” coach Emmanuel Gansallo said. “Even with the difficulties that the pandemic presented, they were able to come out and put in an impressive showing and bonded as a team in the few weeks we had together to train and play for the season.”
There were two losses to start for River Hill, but the Hawks regrouped after that to finish the season with a record of 3-2-2.
Team captains August Hao and Jai Khanna were leaders every step of the way in helping the team improve.
“As the season went on, we grew and got better as a team and individuals,” coach Jonathan Talbot said. “While I wish I could shout out all of the players, a few individuals really stood out in turns of their development and growth as players which coincided with our success — Braden Sauritch, OJ Ndu and Chris Cooper.”
Season highlights included a win over Wilde Lake courtesy of a game-winning free-kick goal by Kayin Buckley and a victory against Glenelg where the Hawks played almost the entire second half down a man. “This [Glenelg] game is where our team spirit and camaraderie was clear for all to see,” Talbot said.
Atholton was able to showcase just how far it came over the course of the season by avenging a season-opening 4-0 loss to Howard courtesy of a shootout victory over those same Lions to end the year. The Raiders finished with a record of 6-1-2.
Sophomore Casey Baldwin was the team’s leading scorer, while sophomore center back Georgia Martin and freshman goalie Katie Wood led the defense. Wood made two saves in the shootout against Howard to end the season.
Sophomores Talia Fields and Kate Illei dominated the midfield, to go with sophomores Layna Meyerpeter and Macie Wain serving as integral parts of the attack.
“Our team carried players who ranged from completely inexperienced to academy level,” coach Jen Smithson said. “Despite the vast variety, the team was one of the most unified I’ve ever coached and that unity contributed to their winning record after the first game and only loss of the season.”
Centennial finished 1-6 on the year but was within a goal in four of its losses. The Eagles made adjustments on the fly all season, as six players were called up to varsity during the course of the spring.
“This young squad could’ve frozen like a deer caught in onrushing headlamps, but instead showed a bit of moxie, courage and energy a.bove their technical acumen,” coach Hank Hurren said.
Even as midfielder Leah Han went down with an injury, the team rallied. “The decided misfortune was met with the usual positive and supportive camaraderie that steadied the ranks and provided the steam for a season rich in effort, courage, growth and fun,” Hurren said.
The defensive group was led by goalkeeper Samantha Richards to go along with Eva Clarkson, Ella McCann and Clarice Demelo in the back. Captain Natalie Thomas anchored the midfield and found the net in the team’s lone victory of the season, a 1-0 win over Wilde Lake.
Thomas, Grace Nuetzel and Julie Milinichik led the teams in goals scored overall.
With 11 freshmen on its 16-player roster, it was a reloading year for Glenelg. Still the Gladiators finished with a 3-3-1 record, securing victories over strong Marriotts Ridge and Centennial teams along the way.
Sophomore captains Ava Stamatakis and Maya Bomhardt were the leaders, while sophomore Kendall Anderson centered a strong defense. Freshman Maria Garbis was also a key on the back line by stepping up and playing keeper for three games as needed.
“Many freshmen contributed to our success and we’re looking forward to building on this group for next season,” coach Chris Bomhardt said.
In a quick season, shortened by a close-contact tracing mandate in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, Howard finished with a record of 3-1-1.
Captains Paige Concha, Charlotte Plano and Paige Sarama were the leaders all year, while Ciara Pomeroy-Anderson, Natalie Rodriguez, Lucy Larson and Mallory Merkey finished as the Lions’ top scorers.
“The girls were amazing. They busted their butts in the few days we had for preseason,” coach Jessica McKay said. “I am looking forward to seeing what the sophomores do next year at the next level and I am excited that I might get to coach some of these freshmen again next year. I am super proud of every player that stepped up and stepped out to come and play for the Howard Lions this triumphant season.”
Mt. Hebron had its season cut short because of a positive coronavirus test, but still finished the year with an undefeated record of 4-0. “In these fragile times, overall, we were super lucky to have the opportunity to compete at all, even for a short while,” coach Robert Gibbons said. “It was a short, weird, wrong-season kind of year, but as always is the case it was a great experience working with a fine group of young ladies that I believe indicate quite a bright future for Hebron soccer.
The Vikings scored five goals in each of their four games, with Liv Hoover (three 3-goal games) and Sinclaire Green (two multi-goal games) leading the way. Overall, 13 out of the 20 players on the roster registered at least one goal or an assist. Sophomores Sierra Sewchand and Giana Athavale, along with freshman Leen Jawhar, joined Hoover and Green up top.
Sophomore captain Solana Wynn and a very talented group of freshmen — Sophia Kreyling, Iva Damyanova, Ellie Fiedler, Caroline McCaffrey, Riley Osburn and Juliana Rodriguiz — dominated the midfield with the help of sophomores Annika Means and Gabby Teachey.
When needed, the defense was stout. Freshmen Emma Schwartz, Ainsley Wilson, Delaney Benson, Sheridan Stokes and Emily Ho combined with keeper Miya Knippenberg to only allow only four goals.
Reservoir went 0-6, but coach Wendell Thomas was pleased with the growth the team showed throughout the year. “The team showed a lot of heart and grit despite a winless season,” Thomas said. “This relentlessness was so obvious in our final game of the season in a 2-1 loss to a very talented Glenelg team.”
In that defeat against the Gladiators, Reservoir got a goal from Nia George off an assist from Regan Hyder to tie the game early in the second half before Glenelg scored late to earn the win. The Gators also showed well in a road game against Wilde Lake, scoring multiple goals in a 3-2 loss.
Hyder’s aggressive play and status as one of the most improved players on the team was evident in that game against the Wildecats, as she scored a goal and assisted on the other — a score by George. Tri-captain Alana Jenne provided the assist on Hyder’s goal.
Joining Jenne as captains were forward Kayla Wontumi and defender Alex Ripkin. The Gators had six players — George, Kendall Hartman, Jenne, Anna Ortiz, Wontumi and Skylar Zook — moved up to varsity by the end of the year.
The trio of George, Zook and Hartman were all versatile in that they split goalkeeping duties while also doubling as effective field players as needed.
River Hill was among the teams to finish this season without a loss, going 5-0-1 and earning several impressive wins. A 3-1 come-from-behind victory over Marriotts Ridge, where the Hawks were trailing by a goal at the half, was among the top highlights.
“This team had a very strong season and improved more and more every day,” coach Amy Weinberg said. “They always were pushing each other to get better every day and showed great team chemistry on and off the field.”
Sophomore goalie Allie Billups led the way at goalie, allowing only five goals and making 37 saves. Freshman Cailin Mckenna was a leader in the midfield (6 goals and 5 assists) and freshman Gabi Demuren was the team’s leading scorer with eight goals and at least once one goal in five out of six games.
There were eight freshmen and six sophomores on the roster for Wilde Lake, which finished with a 1-4 record this season. The highlight of the season for the Wildecats was a one-goal win over Reservoir.
Sophomore captain and attacking midfielder Madison Lee was key to the team’s attack, according to coach Royden Hutchison, as she finished with three goals and four assists. Freshmen wingers Madison Mitchell (4 goals) and Setusi Abdallah (1 goal, 2 assists) were also standout players throughout the year.
Sophomores Lee, Lydia Johnson, Grace Spillane and Kate Kulesza were all pulled up to varsity for the postseason and Kulesza played in all three varsity matches as an outside defender.
Tested several times throughout the year, Glenelg pushed through to finish with an undefeated record of 9-0. Among the biggest wins was the second matchup against Howard, where the Gladiators came back from a halftime deficit to earn a 3-1 victory.
“It was our first time not in the lead all season. I told the girls what I saw that needed to be done and they spoke out the rest among themselves,” coach Mia Astran said. “In minutes we were rewarded a stroke and Theresa [Stiller] buried it in the back of the goal. After that we kept the pressure on and scored two more goals to extend our lead and remain undefeated. It showed our perseverance and willingness to show up when we were down.”
Stiller ended up leading the team with 16 goals and she scored at least one goal in nine games. Catherine Taylor led the team in assists with four and held down the midfield, while Riley Oakes held the defense down and was a huge part of the Gladiators’ corner offense. As a team, Glenelg allowed just four goals in its nine games.
Howard had a small group of just 13 players, but that did not stand in the way of producing memorable results. The Lions finished 8-2 and had plenty of standouts.
The team’s captains were Avery Hayden, Taylor Brooks, Poppy Swallow and Sheena Haroon. Hayden led the team from her forward position with 21 goals and four assists, while Brooks (6 goals, 14 assists) and Swallow (4 goals, assist) were strong offensive contributors all season as well. Haroon was the team’s defensive leader.
“This season we were grateful to be able to have enough ladies to field a team, be able to play a full season and remain healthy throughout,” coach Samantha Earle said. “[They] worked really hard day in and day out on their field hockey skills as well as put in work on their conditioning to be able to play a full game with a low number of subs. Coach McLamb, assistant coach, and myself were proud of their teamwork, hustle, and heart that they put into each game and it proved itself in their growth across the season and in their final record.”
Led by captains Kate Webb, Shannon Holderness and Amira Chong, Mt. Hebron finished with a record of 4-4-1. The team defeated Marriotts Ridge twice, beat Reservoir in their only meeting and then earned a win and tie against River Hill.
Webb and Ella Schropp led the team in goals and assists, while Holderness used her leadership to hold the backline together and transition the ball upfield to the midfielders and forwards. Chong was a consistent midfielder that kept the ball progressing up the field.
Freshmen forward/midfielders Avery Maslow and Abby Smith both came in as immediate contributors and played like sophomores most of the season. Goalkeepers Diya Sharma and Erin Lupold both made key saves to keep the team in games and also solidify wins.
Reservoir had a team of only 12 players, including just five returners, but came together throughout the season to finish with a record of 1-7-1. Courtney Johnson was the Gators’ top scorer, while goalie Maggie Frisvold made over 70 saves to finish as the team MVP.
“We spent the season working on learning the game and building a team dynamic,” coach Katie Glass said. “I am so proud of all of our girls for making the season the best that it could be. I am just so happy that we had the opportunity to play during such a crazy time.”
River Hill was led by sophomores Alma Hagstrom at forward, Mayzie Connelly in the midfield and Priya Patel on defense. Freshmen Marisa Varan (midfield), Sydney Greenberg (defense) and Kayla Garnett (goalie) also were huge contributors.
Among the biggest highlights on the way to an 0-7-2 record was the Hawks earning a 0-0 tie against Mt. Hebron after losing in the first matchup by a score of 3-1.
“We had a lot of new players and some players with experience, and we worked on building foundational skills and working as a team,” coach Marni Rosenbaum said. “We made lots of growth with our stick skills, positioning and communication. I am proud of how the girls came out and worked hard every day and they never gave up.”
Finishing the season with a record of 3-5, Atholton “showed great poise and improvement from the start of the season,” according to coach Rob Moy.
The team lost returning standout Skylar Bruce to an injury in the first match of the season, but behind the leadership of returning setters Rebecca Wu and Kennedy Burnett the tide turned by season’s end. The Raiders swept Long Reach and Marriotts Ridge in their final matches.
Samara Sims converted her basketball skills to volleyball, while Kersten Blucher plugged the middle. Sydnie Cobb, Krista Adam, Kyra Holtje, Sofie Hogue and Jorden Price led the offense, to go along with strong defensive play by liberos Biana Descalzo and Zoe Ryee. Taxi squad player Kashish Patel also played a valuable role in defensive coverage.
Centennial finished with a 4-3 record and did a great job of utilizing every bit of its 17-player roster. Coach Michelle Slopek gave a lot of credit to sophomore team captains Rebecca Donovan and Megha Mellacheruvu for bringing everyone together and uniting the team.
“They creatively found ways to help develop a bond that helped us to grow as a team and be successful this season,” Slopek said. “The biggest highlight of the season was watching the growth and development of these players both individually and as a team. They played with determination and perseverance, not allowing themselves to fold when playing tougher teams and not giving up when down in points.”
Donovan excelled as the team’s starting setter, while defense was one of the Eagles’ strengths thanks to freshmen liberos Ava Camp and Christine Liu. Sophomore outside hitter Grace Chen led the way in kills and service aces, while the offense was rounded out by hitters Zoe Mazerski, Grace Hannum, Riley Middleton and Malia Phiasiripanyo. Middle hitters Emma Booth, Joanna Ritter and Angela Aguilar were a formidable presence at the net.
Hammond ended with a 4-4 record, getting a memorable first win over Wilde Lake and building from there. In that victory over the Wildecats, Lal Mawi went on a 12-point service run with the team playing exceptional defense behind the leadership of captain Zahra Miknas.
On the season, the Golden Bears were led offensively by Miknas, setter Marissa Cossa and middle blocker Reagan Farris.
“We had a truly transformative year. This group of 16 girls helped to establish a new culture for the program and worked extremely hard both mentally and physically,” coach Rebecca Garrigues said. “The team was able to implement a 5-1 rotation as well as a new offensive scheme in a very short period.”
It was a winning season for Howard, which compiled a 5-3 record. Layni Webster (28 aces, 33 digs) and Julianne Kim (19 aces, 29 digs) led the team in both defense and serving, with their strong play allowing setter Eleni Perrus (22 aces, 70 assists, 9 digs) to run an offense and distribute the ball to all of the team’s hitters.
Kamyla Bullock and Hannah Gardner paced the offense with 29 and 22 kills, respectively.
Among the season highlights was a 2-1 victory over Centennial.
“We dropped the first game, but came back to win the second game. This led to a very close third game that ended up going to 18-16,” coach Kristen Flint said. “The team did a great job of staying focused under pressure and winning key points. It was a lot of fun watching the girls play well together and fight for this win.”
Long Reach had six freshmen and only four returning sophomores, but chemistry was apparent from the very beginning according to coach Jennifer Van Oosten. “They clicked right away, so it was easy for them to find their rhythm,” she said.
The Lightning finished with a 2-6 record. Freshman libero Sasha Koola was a top player in the backrow with multiple serving aces, digs and even a couple kills. Other standout players that played their part this season in dominating the net with multiple kills and blocks were Allison Brown (outside hitter), Kayla Carey (middle blocker), Ari Beasley (middle blocker) and Shirley Chen (right-side hitter). Starting setter Natalie Jeon and defensive specialist Isabella Marrero, both sophomores, were keys in the team’s wins over Atholton and Wilde Lake.
Van Oosten especially praised Marrero’s play, saying that she “gave her all on the court, had multiple digs and never gave up a ball.”
On the way to a 3-5 record, Marriotts Ridge saw significant growth.
“Athletes have made great progress in a record amount of time with such a short season,” coach Emma Bullock said. “The team worked together well and brought great spirit to the team.”
Sophomore middle hitter Kerri Lee was instrumental for the offense, finishing with team-leading 14 kills. Freshman Erica Qin, meanwhile, was an aggressive server who kept the team close on many occasions. Bullock said one of the highlights of the season was Qin serving 25 points in a game this season to earn a victory.
It was a new coaching staff for Mt. Hebron, including first-time coaches in Joelle Miller and Tierney Ahearn, but that did not get in the way of success. The Vikings finished undefeated behind the leadership of captains Katie Noppenberger and Lauren Roselle.
“The girls are incredible and taught us everything we know. They developed our practices, warm-ups and drills. We had so much fun,” Miller said. “The girls are strong players and most, if not all, play club.”
Liberos Niti Rao and Rithika Choutkuri dominated in terms of digs along with Alycia Overcast in the backcourt. Outside, middle and backside hitters Aveline Phillips, Ella Freeman, Giuliana Pangan and Sophia Sung took care of things at the net.
Roselle and Noppenberger played all over and averaged seven and six kills per game, respectively. Anna Ermoshkin was another versatile weapon.
Setters Maddie Finkelstein and Grace Gordon were the ones who made the offense run smoothly. Finkelstein averaged 11 assists per game. Mahika Vedire, meanwhile, provided great support despite injuring her ankle during the first week of practice.
Mt. Hebron’s victories came against Glenelg, Marriotts Ridge, River Hill, Long Reach and Wilde Lake.
Reservoir built around its two returners in sophomores Zuri Taitt and Lexi Lee on the way to a 7-1 record. Taitt, Lee and sophomore Chaeli Flotildes continually provided strong defensive coverage and hard serves to give the Gators advantages in many games.
The strong serve-receive on the team then allowed hard-hitting sophomores Elsie Ihediohanma, Destiny Olamide, Lana Gordon and Maddie Beckett to excel as well.
“The highlight of the season for us was just having a season, even if it was a crazy one. Between the girls balancing their club seasons, their schoolwork, their jobs and their family responsibilities, there was rarely a day where the whole team was in the gym together,” coach Holly Hynson said. “But no matter what challenge or obstacle our team faced, no matter what position they were asked to play at the last minute, all the girls were adaptable and worked hard all season long.”
Ending the year with a four-game winning streak, River Hill finished with a 6-2 record. The team was led by captain Vichi Tran, who added strong leadership through play at the net and in the backrow. Team MVP Maddie Antevil’s strong serving, vocal leadership and court awareness were major contributions to the Hawks’ success as well.
Other standouts included Elsie Callah, Keilany Johnson and Kathleen Mairanna in the middle to go along with Sungeen Ghuman and Ally Varson as setters. Kathryn Roth and Sarah Le were the team’s defenseive specialists, while Tiffany Liu, Adelaide Britten and Abigail McMahon were very strong outside hitters.