Liberty is clearly the class of Carroll County girls soccer this year. The Lions, knocked out early in last year's playoffs, could go a long way this season.
North Carroll appears to have a strong team, as do South Carroll and Westminster. Francis Scott Key is trying to rebuild its team, while Western Maryland College stands in the same situation.
FRANCIS SCOTT KEY EAGLES
Coach Joe Linthicum has a bit of a tough task in his first year at the helm. The Eagles are extremely young, with only three seniors, but could surprise a few.
Linthicum said the team could have punchon offense, especially with junior wings Erin Murphey and Tina Wales. And, at the other end of the field, Cathi Bower is strong in goal.
Linthicum said he is hoping the defense can come together and playeffectively. Jen Keys is just a junior, but has plenty of experience.
Susie Small is new as a senior, but the coach thinks she can help. Linthicum said he's aware there's not a lot of experience on defense, but there is promise.
Additionally, several of the girls played on the region champion softball team last year, a squad coached by Linthicum. That winning attitude could be contagious, especially in Monocacy Valley Athletic League games against smaller schools.
Coach Dave Price's team has talent. Unlike most coaches, Price admits he is thrilled with his team, and says this could be a very big year for the Lions.
The Lions went 9-2-2 last year and lost,2-1, to Old Mill of Anne Arundel County in the regional playoffs in a game they could have won. Fifteen letter-winners are back, including 12 seniors and eight starters from last year.
Julie Cox, who hada big year last year, returns, but Price emphasizes the offense is not built around her. She sat out at times in the preseason, and the Lions still played strong. Junior Amy Wolff is going to help.
The midfield, defense and goal are very strong. At midfield, Darlene Marsiglia, Erin Myers and Kym Frey will carry the load and Valerie Swomley, Heather Dobelstein, along with Cindy McCloskey, will help on defense.
Even Price admits he doesn't really see many weaknesses. The biggest problem could be injuries, especially to talented players
North Carroll could have a strong year. The teamis balanced with plenty of talented players all around.
The Panthers, co-coached by Phil Myers and Tom Davidson, surprised Franklin ofBaltimore County in the regional playoffs last year before falling to Old Mill. Several of the key players are back, such as leading scorer Vickie Jackson at wing.
Also, Ashlee Douglas, who came up late in the season and scored the game-winner against Franklin, will help with her booming shot. The defense also should be effective, especially with Jenny Heindel in goal.
There is some inexperience in places on this team. If all parts come together, the Panthers could have astrong year.
SOUTH CARROLL CAVALIERS
The Cavaliers have reached the regional playoffs each of the last four years, only to be eliminated in the first round each time. Last year's squad entered the playoffs as the top seed, but, alas, the results were the same.
Coach Jim Horn has a solid senior nucleus poised to make another run. Headingthis group are leading scorer Gretchen Fogle and defender Liz Masterson, the latter an All-Central Maryland Conference selection the lasttwo years and a unanimous choice last season.
However, Fogle suffered a pulled hamstring in practice, then, while favoring the injury,developed tendinitis in her knee. That could spell trouble for a team whose only weakness appears to be lack of depth.
The Cavaliers will start Kendra Pulis, a freshman, in goal. Along with Masterson, Gretchen deWitt and Julie Laudicina will anchor a strong defense.
Last year's 5-6-1 record is slightly misleading, as the Owls played a brutal schedule that included state champion Severna Park, Carroll County champion Liberty and state semifinalist C. M. Wright.
Defense is the trademark of the Owls. Only once, the 2-0 loss to Severna Park, did they lose by more than one goal. Overall, theysurrendered only 17 goals over the 12-game schedule, a school record.
Returning starters for this year's squad include some excellent returnees. Included are Kristen Erpelding and Amy Shipp, two players Coach Greg Bright is counting to be multiposition types. Also back are defender/striker Lisa Hanle and goalie Kara Hedges.
WMC GREEN TERRORS
Western Maryland managed only a 1-4 record in Middle Atlantic Conference action. The up side is that last year's 5-6-1 overall mark was an improvement over a 5-12 mark in 1989. So progress is being made.
The Green Terrors return only three starters, but they are three good ones. All-MAC goalie Claudia Henemyre is back, as are co-captains Jen Gordon and Amye Walker.
Leadership is vital, since Coach Jenny Flynn plans to start at least three freshmen on this year's team. Flynn is also counting on a deep bench to carry some of the load.