John Carroll's defending Catholic League champion girls soccer team has excelled in more ways than just its league-leading record.
Beginning with sophomore goalkeeper Karin Olsen, who ranks fourth in her class, the Patriots (9-2-3 overall, 9-1-2 league) are a solid team athletically and academically.
John Carroll's starting defense has a collective A average, and the rest of the team members have a B average or above.
"It certainly makes my job easier," says eighth-year coach Joe Rehrmann, whose top-seeded Patriots are going for their fourth overall and second straight title in today's 12-team Catholic League tournament.
Midfielder Kate Van Rooy (a 4.0 grade-point average) and defender Suzie Delaney (3.95) are four-year starters. Van Rooy, the senior class president, serves as a page with the General Assembly.
The team's leading scorer, sophomore Amity Torbit (nine goals), is an honor student. So is senior defender Christine Berry.
Senior forward Julia Malinowski (20 goals last season) is a two-time All-Metro and a three-time all-county and all-league selection. She is one of only three under-19 national team candidates from Maryland. Malinowski, who has a B average, is being recruited by Duke. The Blue Devils soccer team is ranked No. 7 nationally.
"Good grades come before soccer. Most of us seniors are going right to good colleges," says Delaney, who likes Loyola. Van Rooy is looking at Notre Dame, and all-league forward Carrie Stallings (17 goals last season) and senior defender Kristina Lynch are looking at La Salle University.
Last year's Patriots finished with a 13-1-1 record, beating regular-season champion St. Mary's, 2-1, for their third tournament title. The Patriots also won titles in 1984 and 1986. The next two seasons, John Carroll was a runner-up to Catholic, the only other team with three titles.
The Patriots defeated Archbishop Spalding, 4-0, Catholic, 4-2, and McDonogh, 4-1, in their last three regular-season games to remain in a first-place tie with St. Mary's (13-2, 10-2) for the regular-season title.
The teams split regular-season games, and each will receive a first-round bye in today's tournament, although St. Mary's is the second seed.
With midfielder/forward Malinowski and Stallings (held to eight goals each this season) drawing the tight marks, Torbit and sophomore Katie Nietubicz (six goals) have added balance to the offense.
The Patriots are not as dominating as last year's team, which outscored its opponents, 36-0, in its first six games. This year's Patriots have outscored their opponents, 38-16.
John Carroll's losses were a 3-2 decision to defending Howard County and regional champion Oakland Mills and a 4-3 decision to St. Mary's, a team it had beaten earlier, 3-1.