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Howard County 2021 field hockey preview

A preview of the 2021 Howard County field hockey season, with team-by-team capsules and players to watch.
A preview of the 2021 Howard County field hockey season, with team-by-team capsules and players to watch. (Matt Hazlett/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

On the heels of a competitive spring 2021 field hockey campaign among the county’s elite programs, the coaches head into this fall expecting much of the same.

River Hill was the best county team during the spring. The Hawks went 9-1, earned the county crown and had the Player of the Year in then-sophomore Maddie Vasilios. This season, the county’s coaches believe River Hill, Marriotts Ridge and Glenelg are likely to be the top teams in the league again, with Mt. Hebron — the 2019 county champs — also expected to have a competitive squad.

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The talent in the area during the spring was younger than in most years. Eighteen of the 33 All-County players are returning this season, including five first-team underclassmen.

Just like the spring 2021 campaign, the county’s teams will be split into two divisions. Centennial, Glenelg, Howard, Marriotts Ridge, Mt. Hebron, Reservoir and River Hill are in Division A, while Atholton, Hammond, Long Reach, Oakland Mills and Wilde Lake make up Division B.

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The regular season starts Sept. 3 and finishes Oct. 23. The MPSSAA field hockey playoffs begin Oct. 28 and end Nov. 13.

Here’s a look at the 13 county teams entering the 2021 season:

Atholton

Atholton #16 Emma Moser and Wilde Lake #2 Aliyah Hodges battle for the ball in field hockey game at Atholton High School against Wilde Lake during the 2019 season.
Atholton #16 Emma Moser and Wilde Lake #2 Aliyah Hodges battle for the ball in field hockey game at Atholton High School against Wilde Lake during the 2019 season. (Jeffrey F. Bill)

Coach: Martie Dyer (16th season overall)

Spring 2021 record: 8-2 (Division B)

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Returning starters: Eight

Top players: Seniors Lauren Donaldson (MF), Emma Moser (D) and Lizzie Moser (D); juniors Asha Derstine (F), Bella Konrad (F) and Kara Schmidt (D).

Opening whistle: Atholton was the second-best team in Division B last season, and with Centennial moving up to Division A, the Raiders are poised to be atop their division. Dyer expects defense to be her team’s strength, and she is looking forward to her experienced players bringing along the Raiders’ young talent.

Centennial

Centennial field hockey coach Natalie Fyock, pictured here at practice during the spring 2021 season, is entering her second year as the Eagles' coach.
Centennial field hockey coach Natalie Fyock, pictured here at practice during the spring 2021 season, is entering her second year as the Eagles' coach. (Jeffrey F. Bill)

Coach: Natalie Fyock (second season)

Spring 2021 record: 10-0 (Division B)

Returning starters: Six

Top players: Seniors Sarah Arcuri (F), Meghan Creel (D), Alaina Kelly (MF) and Ellen Landrum (MF); junior Hayley Harris (MF); sophomore Helen Baldy (MF).

Opening whistle: The Eagles dominated Division B competition during the spring 2021 season, scoring 10 times a game and not allowing a single goal. Fyock’s squad, who she said is filled with great leaders, will compete in Division A this season.

Glenelg

Glenelg's #26 Kam Henson and River Hill's #11 Lindsay Garnish battle for the ball. Field hockey game between Glenelg and River Hill, Monday March 29, 2021 at Glenelg High School. Glenelg won 2-1.
Glenelg's #26 Kam Henson and River Hill's #11 Lindsay Garnish battle for the ball. Field hockey game between Glenelg and River Hill, Monday March 29, 2021 at Glenelg High School. Glenelg won 2-1. (Jeffrey F. Bill)

Coach: Nikki Trunzo (11th season overall)

Spring 2021 record: 7-3 (county runner-up)

Returning starters: Four

Top players: Sophomores AJ Eyre (MF) and Kam Henson (MF).

Opening whistle: The Gladiators finished second in the highly competitive Division A last season and were the only team to defeat county-champion River Hill. Glenelg brings back Henson and Eyre, both of whom achieved the difficult feat of being first-team All-County selections as freshmen this past spring. That duo will once again lead the Gladiators’ midfield, which Trunzo said is her team’s strength.

Hammond

The Hammond field hockey in the huddle during a game in the spring 2021 season.
The Hammond field hockey in the huddle during a game in the spring 2021 season. (Photo courtesy of Molly Schaefer)

Coach: Courtney Abell (third season)

Spring 2021 record: 4-6 (Division B)

Returning starters: 11

Top players: Seniors Marlee Hunter (F) and Izabelle Stalnaker (F); juniors Mayuri Chakkara (F), Lily DeBlasio (GK), Brianna Donato (D) and Hannah Haber (MF).

Opening whistle: The Golden Bears have one of the most experienced rosters in the county with 13 juniors and six seniors. The combination of returning players and new talent has Abell excited for the season.

Howard

Howard's Gabbi Rabold and Reservoir goalie Maria Newell track the ball as it bounces away during a field hockey game at Howard High School on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2019
Howard's Gabbi Rabold and Reservoir goalie Maria Newell track the ball as it bounces away during a field hockey game at Howard High School on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2019 (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Coach: Courtney Sprissler (fourth season)

Spring 2021 record: 3-7

Returning starters: Five

Top players: Juniors Taylor Brooks (MF) and Avery Hayden (F); sophomore CJ Summa (MF).

Opening whistle: Sprissler said captains Gabbi Rabold, Alyssa Gorny and Nina Cooper have been great leaders getting the team ready for the season. While Sprissler said the preseason has been a learning curve for her young team, she is excited to see her experienced players gel with the new players.

Long Reach

The Long Reach field hockey team talks in the huddle during a game in the spring 2021 season.
The Long Reach field hockey team talks in the huddle during a game in the spring 2021 season. (Photo courtesy of Israel Carunungan)

Coach: Melissa Cotton (second season overall)

Spring 2021 record: 2-8 (Division B)

Returning starters: Four

Top players: Senior Kelly Song (MF); junior Ruby Walsh (MF); sophomore Georgia Day (MF/D).

Opening whistle: Cotton said Song, Walsh and Day are natural leaders as the Lightning’s captains. The Lightning return only four starters from this past spring as Cotton’s squad has graduated 14 players in the last two years combined.

Marriotts Ridge

Marriotts Ridge's Sophia Baxter advances the ball in the second quarter of an opening-day field hockey game between River Hill and Marriotts Ridge, at Marriotts Ridge High School, March 8, 2021.
Marriotts Ridge's Sophia Baxter advances the ball in the second quarter of an opening-day field hockey game between River Hill and Marriotts Ridge, at Marriotts Ridge High School, March 8, 2021. (Jeffrey F. Bill)

Coach: Molly Milani (second season)

Spring 2021 record: 5-5

Returning starters: Five

Top players: Seniors Sophia Haghgoo (D) and Emi Moran (MF); juniors Sophia Baxter (MF), Maisy Clevenger (F) and Natalie Freeman (MF).

Opening whistle: The 2019 state-champion Mustangs had an up and down spring 2021 campaign. Baxter was a first-team All-County pick last season, while Clevenger — who scored the game-winning goal in the 2019 team’s state title victory — was a second-team pick. The Mustangs also welcome Freeman, a transfer from Garrison Forest, to the squad this fall.

Mt. Hebron

Mt. Hebron's Paige Leitzel (37) advances the ball down the field during a field hockey match between River Hill and Mt. Hebron during the spring 2021 season.
Mt. Hebron's Paige Leitzel (37) advances the ball down the field during a field hockey match between River Hill and Mt. Hebron during the spring 2021 season. (Daniel Kucin Jr.)

Coach: Jeannette Ireland (31st season)

Spring 2021 record: 4-6

Returning starters: Three

Top players: Senior Paige Leitzel (F); sophomore Natalie Machiran (MF).

Opening whistle: After winning the county title in 2019, the Vikings had an up and down spring 2021 season, including two losses to Reservoir but two wins over Marriotts Ridge. Ireland’s squad is young this fall, but the longtime coach is impressed with how hardworking her team has been this preseason.

Oakland Mills

The Oakland Mills field hockey team prepares to defend a penalty corner in a game against Long Reach during the spring 2021 season.
The Oakland Mills field hockey team prepares to defend a penalty corner in a game against Long Reach during the spring 2021 season. (Photo courtesy of Israel Carunungan)

Coach: Christina Devine (first season)

Spring 2021 record: 0-10 (Division B)

Returning starters: Three

Top players: Seniors Erin Oliver (MF/D) and Katie Oliver (GK); junior Abigail Reed (MF).

Opening whistle: After a winless campaign this past spring, the Scorpions will rely on Reed and the Oliver twins as their captains this fall. Devine said effort and sharp passing will be important as her squad hopes to build up the Scorps’ field hockey program.

Reservoir

Maggie Frisvold, pictured here making a save in a JV game during the spring 2021 season, will be the Gators' varsity goalkeeper this fall.
Maggie Frisvold, pictured here making a save in a JV game during the spring 2021 season, will be the Gators' varsity goalkeeper this fall. (Submitted photo)

Coach: Megan Maloney (third season)

Spring 2021 record: 2-8

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Returning starters: Eight

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Top players: Juniors Sophie Chung (D), Bella Pereira (F) and Sarah Weitzman (MF).

Opening whistle: The Gators finished in last place in Division A this past spring, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t competitive. Maloney’s squad took down 2019 county champion Mt. Hebron twice, and five of the team’s losses were by two or fewer goals. This fall, the Gators are one of the most experienced teams in the county, led by captains Kiersten Jewell, Weitzman and Pereira.

River Hill

River Hill's Puja Nanjappa (15) battles Mt. Hebron's Michelle Pak (28) for the ball during a field hockey match between River Hill and Mt. Hebron on March 15, 2021.
River Hill's Puja Nanjappa (15) battles Mt. Hebron's Michelle Pak (28) for the ball during a field hockey match between River Hill and Mt. Hebron on March 15, 2021. (Daniel Kucin Jr.)

Coach: Shelly Chamness (22nd season overall)

Spring 2021 record: 9-1 (county champion)

Returning starters: Seven

Top players: Seniors Laura Mason (F), Claire Slade (F) and Allie Young (MF); juniors Puja Nanjappa (MF) and Maddie Vasilios (MF).

Opening whistle: The Hawks were the top team in the county this past spring and bring back multiple All-County performers from that team. Vasilios, a University of Maryland commit, and Nanjappa, a first-team pick in each of her first two seasons, will once again make up one of the most potent midfield duos in the state.

Wilde Lake

Flanked by teammates, Melody Simmons (L) and Meredith Sikora, Wilde Lake's Mariam Farjami reacts after scoring her first of three goals. Wilde Lake cruises to a 7-1 win over host, Hammond during the 2019 season.
Flanked by teammates, Melody Simmons (L) and Meredith Sikora, Wilde Lake's Mariam Farjami reacts after scoring her first of three goals. Wilde Lake cruises to a 7-1 win over host, Hammond during the 2019 season. (Doug Kapustin/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Coach: Ginger Kincaid (45th season overall)

Spring 2021 record: 6-4 (Division B)

Returning starters: Six

Top players: Seniors Hannah Ehrlich (MF), Bri Floyd (MF), Erin Hopper (D), Haley Lawson (D), Liana Mullican (F) and Meredith Sikora (D).

Opening whistle: The Wildecats were the third-best team in Division B this past spring. Floyd, a second-team All-County selection last season, is one of several seniors who will be key for Kincaid’s squad this fall.

Glenelg Country

Coach: Karen Mendoza (first season)

2019 record: 0-7 IAAM B Conference, 4-9 overall

Returning starters: Five

Top players: Senior Hannah Glawe (MF); juniors Ashley Dyer (F) and Maddie Herman (D); sophomore Nichelle Desbordes (MF).

Opening whistle: The IAAM didn’t have an official fall 2020 campaign, with its private schools participating in an “open season” amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Dragons are a young team, but Mendoza said she’s been impressed so far this preseason with her team’s positive attitude.

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