River Hill girls soccer coach Brian Song identified fairly early on that Caroline Duffy was special.
She was so impactful in fact, following Duffy making second team All-County as a freshman goalie in 2018, Song did something the following fall that he almost never does — he named her a sophomore captain.
It was only the second time in Song’s 17-year tenure that he had bestowed the captaincy on a player that young.
“When she came in her freshman year, in my opinion she was much more mature than what you expect out of a 14-year-old girl at the time,” said Song. “She was always playing with the kids older than her, so I think that made her mature a little bit quicker.”
During her four-year career, Duffy has been an example of consistency every step of the way. And yet, despite being the team’s defensive rock from the very beginning, Duffy very well may have saved her best for last this fall while leading River Hill to a 13-6 overall record (8-3 county) and a berth in the 3A state championship game.
The three-time captain recorded nine shutouts as a senior this season, including holding the opposition scoreless in the Hawks’ state quarterfinal and semifinal victories. For her efforts, she has been named the fall 2021 Howard County Times/Columbia Flier Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
“She probably understands the [goalie] position better than anybody that I’ve ever coached, or I’ve ever known this last 30 years of coaching whether club or high school, said Song.”
Duffy, who is committed to play next year at Duke University, anchored the back line this year for a Hawks team that put together an eight-game winning streak between the end of the regular season and into the playoffs to reach the state title game.
Despite the run for a title falling a game short with a 1-0 loss to Mt. Hebron in the 3A state championship contest, Duffy’s consistency in goal played a vital part in the team’s success. The Hawks weren’t a high-powered offensive team, but knew they could always rely on her performance in net.
“Without her this year we probably would’ve finished the regular season maybe .500, maybe 6-6, 7-5, somewhere around there,” Song said. “With her in goal, we finished the regular season 9-3.”
The Player of the Year award culminates a career filled with accolades for Duffy. Named Second-Team All-County her freshman and sophomore seasons, she was named First-Team All-County each of the last two seasons.
Despite all those accomplishments, Duffy remained humble and often focused on the accomplishments of others rather than her own.
“My parents had always taught me to be very grateful for any recognition or awards that I was receiving, but at the same time they just pushed me to continue to look forward and to keep wanting to achieve bigger goals,” Duffy said.
Duffy’s impact extended beyond the field. The experience leading as an underclassman helped to shape Duffy’s leadership style in the coming years, particularly this past season as one of seven seniors on River Hill’s team.
Duffy focused on setting the right example both on and off the field for the younger players in the program, doing her part to maintain the proud tradition of River Hill.
“I didn’t have too many expectations going into the season of the team thinking, ‘Yes, this is a state championship team’,” Duffy said. “I think that was the beauty of this season where I was focused on, ‘Let’s just be the best we can be and see how far we can go.’ It was amazing to have been able to make it that far. We worked so hard throughout the season to get where we got to.”
FIRST TEAM ALL-COUNTY
Stephanie Lathrop, Glenelg sophomore. Lathrop set a school record with 28 goals and 62 points this fall, making first team All-County for the second straight season. She had eight game-winning goals, including in the state championship game win over Hereford, in addition to tying for the team lead with six assists.
Karis Turner, Reservoir senior. A three-time first team All-County selection, Turner was the leading goal scorer (9) for the Gators and also added 4 assists. She will play at Coastal Carolina next year.
Giavanna Liberto, Marriotts ridge junior. A starter every year since arriving as a freshman, Liberto led the Mustangs this fall with 40 points on 16 goals and 8 assists.
Sinclaire Green, Mt. Hebron sophomore. The leading scorer for the state-champion Vikings with 18 goals and 3 assists, Green delivered the game-winning goal in 1-0 victories in the state quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.
Kate Hanks, Mt. Hebron senior. A standout defensive midfielder, Hanks helped the Vikings allow just four goals in 17 games this season — including 14 shutouts. She also chipped in with a goal and a team-high 6 assists.
Megan Wagner, Marriotts Ridge senior. Wagner, a two-year captain headed to play in college at Shepherd, was named first team All-County for a second straight year. She posted a county-best 13 assists to go along with five goals.
Sophie Davidson, Reservoir senior. The George Mason commit was named first team All-County this fall for a second time in her career, finishing with 8 goals and 7 assists.
Symone Jenson, Glenelg senior. Jenson, a University of Maryland commit, tied for the team lead with six assists and also added two goals. She was just as effective as a standout defensive midfielder that played a major role in the Gladiators’ 10 shutouts.
Laila Cowsette, Atholton senior. A central fullback that had 23 interceptions and 20 ball-winning tackles for a Raiders’ defense that allowed more than a goal in a game only once, Cowsette will play in college at Howard University.
Emma Bennett, Centennial senior. Bennett, who has accepted an offer to play at Virginia Commonwealth University, led the Eagles in tackles (118) and also contributed a goal and 4 assists offensively.
Carlin Costell, Glenelg sophomore. Costell excelled in the defensive midfielder/stopper role for the state-champion Gladiators, leading the way to 10 shutouts — including allowing only one goal during the state tournament.
Anna Page, Marriotts Ridge senior. Often tasked with marking the opponents’ best forward, Page organized the back four for a defense that never allowed more than one goal in any game and only three goals overall. She is committed to play at Holy Cross University.
Caroline Albert, Marriotts Ridge senior. Anchoring the Mustangs’ defense, Albert allowed only three goals in 16 games and recorded 13 shutouts.
SECOND TEAM ALL-COUNTY
Forward: Ava Morales, Atholton senior; Ara Omituwojo, River Hill senior; Lauren Pellegrini, Centennial senior; Jessica Ruano, Long Reach senior.
Midfield: Rebecca Fairbanks, Oakland Mills junior; Gia Johnson, Wilde Lake senior; Allie Lubitz, River Hill junior; Claira Pomeroy-Anderson, Howard sophomore; Leah Williams, Wilde Lake senior.
Defense: Lauren Gustafsen, Mt. Hebron senior; Kaitlyn Heitzmann, River Hill senior; Caroline Nugent, Hammond senior; Lilly Smull, Oakland Mills senior; Ainsley Wilson, Mt. Hebron sophomore.
Goalie: Dahlia Bedward, Atholton senior.
IAAM B Conference All-Star
Lilly Fortin, Glenelg Country sophomore
IAAM C Conference All-Stars
Kya Beans, Chapelgate sophomore; Miriam Titolye, Chapelgate senior.
1. Stephanie Lathrop, G, 62 points (28 goals and 6 assists); 2. Giavana Liberto, MR, 40 (16 and 8); 3. Sinclaire Green, MH, 39 (18 and 3); 4. Lauren Pellegrini, C, 25 (12 and 1); T5. Sophie Davidson, Re, 23 (8 and 7); T5. Megan Wagner, MR, 23 (5 and 13); T7. Ava Morales, A, 22 (10 and 2); T7. Karis Turner, Re, 22 (9 and 4); 9. Allie Lubitz, RH, 21 (5 and 11); T10. Ciaira Pomeroy-Anderson, Ho, 19 (6 and 7); T10. Brianna Werner, G, 19 (8 and 3).
12. Ara Omitowoju, RH, 18 (7 and 4); 13. Grace Dunbar, WL, 17 (6 and 5); 14. Jessie Barke, MH, 15 (6 and 3); T15. Lucy Larson, Ho, 13 (5 and 3); T15. Avery Oergel, Re, 13 (5 and 3); T15. Leah Williams, WL, 13 (5 and 3); T18. Michelle Fradlin, C, 12 (4 and 4); T18. Madison Lee, WL, 12 (5 and 2); T18. Ginny Sung, G, 12 (5 and 2).
T21. Gia Johnson, WL, 11 (5 and 1); T21. Brooke Matney, Ho, 11 (5 and 1); T21. Vivian Yao, RH, 11 (4 and 3); T21. Leen Jawhar, MH, 11 (5 and 0); 25. Symone Jenson, G, 10 (2 and 6); 26. Emily Robinson, G, 9 (3 and 3); T27. Kate Hanks, MH, 8 (1 and 6); T27. Joanna Ritter, C, 8 (4 and 0); T27. Ava Stamatakis, G, 8 (3 and 2); T27. Emily Wieser, Re, 8 (2 and 4).
T31. Maya Bomhart, G, 7 (2 and 3); T31. Kaity Browne, OM, 7 (3 and 1); T31. Rebecca Fairbanks, OM, 7 (3 and 1); T31. Amari Mehta, MH, 7 (2 and 3).
*Stats not received from Hammond and Long Reach
Hannah Lowry, WL, 108 saves; Caroline Duffy, RH, 95; Paige Andrews, OM, 88; Dahlia Bedward, A, 79; Angela Neira-Bonilla, Ha, 70; Bella Buscher, G, 63; Emily Canseven, MH, 62; Kendall Hartman, Re, 39; Caroline Schreier, Ha, 37.
*Stats not received from all schools
Marriotts Ridge* (10-0-1 county, 14-1-1 overall)
Mt. Hebron** (10-1, 15-2)
Glenelg% (9-2, 15-2)
River Hill# (8-3, 13-6)
Atholton (7-3-1, 9-4-1)
Howard (5-6, 7-8)
Wilde Lake (4-7, 6-7)
Reservoir (4-7, 6-9)
Centennial (4-7, 5-8)
Long Reach (2-9, 2-10)
Oakland Mills (1-10, 3-11)
Hammond (1-10, 2-11)
Glenelg Country (2-7 IAAM B, 2-8 overall)
Chapelgate (2-10 IAAM C, 3-13-1 overall)
**3A state champions
%2A state champions
#3A state finalist