To say that 1990 was a strong year for local field hockey would be agross understatement.
Among the locals, Francis Scott Key, Liberty and Westminster all won regional championships, while South Carrollmade it to the regional finals. Even North Carroll, which didn't score a goal in eight of its 12 games, made it to the regionals on the strength of its defense.
However, thanks to graduation, this will be a rebuilding year formany of the teams -- be it patching a few holes or more extensive repairs.
Still, the teams have even more opportunity to win region tournaments and to advance to the states. Carroll's teams were in justthree regions last year, but managed to win all three. This year, with North Carroll and Liberty dropping to Class 2A, Carroll could possibly advance a team in each of four classifications.
Western Maryland College, meanwhile, will have a veteran team, but a rookie head coach in the competitive Middle Atlantic Conference.
Here's a look at how the local field hockey scene shapes up for 1991:
FRANCIS SCOTTKEY EAGLES
Last year Key shocked everyone by winning its regionalchampionship. This year, if the team happens to advance that far again, according to coach Marie Wilson, it might not be a total surprise.
A strong nucleus of eight girls returns, making the offense and the midfield among the strongest in the CMC. Among the key returnees are wing Wendy Galandak, midfielder Dani Deeds, halfback Monica Smithand goalie Gail Garber.
Wilson says this squad is extremely strong, with good stickwork, speed and -- something other teams lack -- experience.
After losing a double-overtime thriller toCalvert in last year's state semifinals, Liberty is hungry to get past that stumbling block this season.
And if experience is any indicator, that may be a distinct possibility.
The Lions lose just four seniors from last year's team that came on late in the season to finish 7-5-3.
Both the attack and defense should be solid. Seniors Lisa Yealdhall, Heather Jordon and Tracy Bantel all return on offense,while seniors Krista George and Kim Hoffmaster return on defense, with senior Melanie Aprile in goal.
"We have a lot of experience this year," said coach Courtney Vaughn, whose team moves down to Class 2A this season. "They've played with each other and know the system. This has to be the hungriest group I've had so far."
NORTH CARROLL PANTHERS
For a team to score zero goals in nine of its games and still make it to the regionals takes a stroke of luck. That's what happenned to North Carroll last season.
This time around, coach Stacey Abeles doesn't want to have to rely on her rabbit's foot. Instead, she's assembled a group of speedsters that could very well supply North Carroll with a badly needed scoring punch.
Included among them areseniors Gina Christiani and Danielle Miller, who will both play on the forward line, junior sweeper Emily Fair and senior link Amy Eggers.
Both Christiani and Fair made All-County last year, and will be counted on to lead the offense. But they will be playing alongside a number of newcomers, as the team lost eight to graduation.
Only time will tell if this year is to be one for winning or rebuilding.
SOUTH CARROLL CAVALIERS
Like most area teams, South Carroll was hit hard by graduation. The team lost six starters from last year's regional finalist, and its starting goalie has never even played field hockey.
But coach Stacy Stem looks at the bright side. As for the losses -- well, seven seniors will return. As for the goalie -- she has played JV lacrosse, and the ball looks almost the same.
While the team may not attain its record of a year ago, Stem is hopeful of landing a spot in the playoffs.
Leading the squad will be seniors Heather Fitzgerald (defense), Julie Langlois (link), Audrey Van Norman (forward) and Erin Eaton (forward), as well as junior Patty Duffy (link).
Co-coaches Brenda Baker and Sue Hooper had a lot to celebrate last season, including a 13-1 record and a trip to thestate semifinals. But this year, with the loss of eight starters, another successful campaign will depend on the play of newcomers.
Gone is the entire forward line from last year's squad, and in its place is a group from last season's undefeated JV team. The only stable points on the team are three-year starters Julie Marcus (link), Staci Schmidt (halfback) and Meredith Fisher (halfback), and senior goalie Cindy Dieterly.
Defense will be the strong point, but the offense is still a mystery. The play of the forward line should dictate the team's success.
WMC GREEN TERRORS
At Western Maryland College, there will be 14 returning letter-winners. It will be two of them, however, that could make the difference between a fair and a good season.
Wings Dina Comuzzi, a junior, and Jodi Livingston, a senior, combined last season to score 14 of the team's 18 goals. Now they return with a year more of experience. With big scoring seasons, the pair could carry the team.
The other key will be in goal, where sophomore Sherry Albright returns. Last year as a freshman, she compiled a modest 2.43 goals-against average. For the Terrors to win consistently, she'll have to cut that number down.