A decade after fielding the state's first intercollegiate women's soccer team, Essex Community College is again leading the way.
The Knights were regulars in the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament from 1982 to 1987, winning the title in 1983. They'll make their first quarterfinal appearance in five years tomorrow, when they play tournament host Mercer County (N.J.).
Anne Arundel replaced Essex as the state leader from 1988 to 1990, and the Knights were upset in last year's Region XX final by Catonsville. Coach Scott Wittman then brought in seven new starters.
"In the eight years I've been here, this is the best team I've ever had," Wittman said. "I realized I had to pick up the recruiting after last year. It seems like when you get that one prominent player, others follow her. Robyn was the cornerstone."
Robyn Depasquale, a first-team All-Metro player for Mercy High in 1991, is one of the nation's top offensive midfielders. Freshman forwards Stacey Schott (Franklin) and Jill Fennekohl (Perry Hall) have combined for 20 goals. Led by goalie Sue Blanco and outside back Nicole Reabe (Kenwood), Essex has allowed just four goals.
The lone blemish on Essex's 14-0-1 record was a 2-2 tie against Mercer County in a game played less than 24 hours after the Knights had beaten Catonsville.
Despite three losses to Essex, Catonsville (12-6) earned an at-large bid, and plays SUNY-Farmingdale in tomorrow's quarterfinals. Sophomores Angela Farace (North County) and Amy Leishear (Laurel) have combined for 41 goals.
Navy stands alone
Barring some unforeseen developments with Towson State and the Division I-AA football selection committee, Navy cross country and water polo will be the only state men's teams to advance to NCAA championships this season.
Al Cantello's cross country team was fourth in the IC4As, but it grabbed the third and last qualifying spot for District II. Qualifying as a team for the first time since it was host to the championships in 1989, the Mids will race in the Division I meet at Indiana next Monday. Kerry O'Neill, 16th in the ECAC women's championship, received an at-large bid to the NCAAs.
Mike Schofield's water polo team, 20-9 on the season, goes to the NCAA championships Nov. 27-29 in Long Beach, Calif.
Frostburg State's Chris Lesser will be the state's lone representative at the NCAA Division III cross country championships at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., Saturday. was second in the Mid-East Regional qualifier.
UMBC's Scott Elwood, a senior from Edgewood, was ninth in the IC4A University Division race, earning All-East honors for the third straight year.
Move over, Neon
Frostburg State knew it was getting a good outfielder when Jordan Steller finished up at McDonogh School, but the Bobcats didn't know they were also going to get a football kicker.
Steller was a soccer player at McDonogh, where he didn't join the football team until October of his senior year. He surfaced as the Frostburg State kicker in August and ended up as the Bobcats' second-leading scorer with 40 points. He made 25 of 29 conversion kicks and made half of his 10 field goal attempts, four of six from 30 to 39 yards.
Last spring, Steller hit .418 for McDonogh, where he was an MSA A Conference all-star.
Big South baseball bid
Regardless of how fall ball went, it was a good autumn for the Towson State and UMBC baseball teams.
Next spring, they'll spend their first season in the Big South Conference, which is close to getting one of the 24 automatic bids to the 48-team NCAA tournament. The Division I Baseball Committee has recommended to the NCAA Executive Committee an automatic bid for the Big South, and the Tigers and Retrievers' histories deserve some of the credit.
Towson State won the East Coast Conference tournament in 1988 and 1991, and won an NCAA Regional game each year. UMBC lost in the ECC final last spring, but received an at-large bid because of 37 victories and its strength of schedule.
UMBC swimmers peaking
When the UMBC swimming teams swept Maryland on Sunday, it marked the Retrievers' first victories over the Terps in seven tries. Including an earlier victory over Duke, it marked the first time a UMBC program had beaten two ACC opponents in the same season since lacrosse stopped Duke and North Carolina en route to the NCAA Division II title in 1980.
Mike Gibeau, a freshman from Hammond High, won the 200 butterfly and swam on two winning relays, as the UMBC men beat Maryland, 159-82. The women's score was 123-114.
The ACC volleyball tournament will be at Cole Field House from Friday to Saturday. . . . Wrestling teams from Morgan State, West Virginia, North Carolina State, Clemson, George Mason and James Madison will be at Halsey Field House on Saturday (9 a.m.) for the Navy Classic. . . . Sophomore Jarrod Cronin (Calvert Hall) swept the 50 and 100 freestyles in Goucher's swimming loss to Loyola.
Area players on all-conference teams
Mid-Atlantic Regional: Maryland coach Missy Meharg was named Coach of the Year for the third straight time. The Terps placed senior Lisa Rowe, juniors Sabrina Salam, Amy Schubert and Boukje Vermeulen, and sophomore Laura Harmon on the first team, and juniors Elissa Beckman, Shannon Petrick and Maureen Scott on the second team. Rowe, Schubert and Vermeulen were also named to the ACC all-star team.
Centennial Conference: Johns Hopkins and Western Maryland both placed four players on the first team. From the Blue Jays, junior wide receiver Joe Richards, senior offensive lineman Jim Dietz, sophomore defensive lineman Jelani Rucker (Poly) and senior defensive back Tom Baugher were named. From the Green Terrors, senior offensive lineman Paul Picchierri, junior running back Rob Johnson (North Carroll), sophomore place-kicker Dung Dinh and sophomore defensive lineman Adam Gregori were named. Johns Hopkins senior offensive lineman Mike Miller and Western Maryland junior linebacker Dennis Walker received honorable mention. The first team included Gettysburg senior offensive lineman Bill Koras (Loyola). Franklin & Marshall junior offensive lineman Rob Welling (Loyola) received honorable mention.
Central Intercollegiate: Bowie State senior defensive back Steve Smith and sophomore punt and kick returner Dwayne Zackery (Gwynn Park) were named first-team. From the Bulldogs defense, sophomore lineman Tracy Ledbetter, senior linebackers Ed Gregory (Du Val) and John Morgan (Bishop McNamara), and junior safety Gary Beckford (Albert Einstein) were named to the second team. Defensive lineman Ken Christopher (Parkside) was named to the all-freshman team.
Big South: UMBC swept the top two honors, as junior Kelly O'Brien (Potomac/Wootton High) was named the Player of the Year and Catherine Lavery was named the Coach of the Year.
Capital: St. Mary's Ann Guida was named the Coach of the Year. The Seahawks placed junior hitters Amy Brewer (Catonsville) and Jen Tregoning (Francis Scott Key) on the second team, which included Goucher sophomore setter Laurie Bender (Loch Raven).
Patriot: Plebe Jen Meininger was named the Rookie of the Year. She and Katie Schulian were named to the first team.
Metro Atlantic: Junior forward Betsy Given (Broadneck), junior midfielder Lynda Lohsen (Queen Anne School) and junior goalie Mary Beth Joyce were named to the all-tournament team.
Bowie State: Sanders Shiver was named Coach of the Week in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The Bulldogs lost to Wofford, 24-22, but they limited star quarterback Shawn Graves to 58 yards rushing and 51 passing.
Johns Hopkins: Senior safety Tom Baugher was named Defensive Player of the Week in the Centennial Football Conference after making 15 tackles and two interceptions in a 21-9 victory over Western Maryland. Hari Lymon, a freshman from City, was named the ECAC Division III Southern Region Rookie of the Week after gaining 206 yards scoring two touchdowns on 34 carries.
Maryland: Senior quarterback John Kaleo was named ACC Offensive Back of the Week and the ECAC Division I-A co-Offensive Player of the Week. In a 53-23 defeat of Clemson, he completed 27 of 41 passes for 418 yards and a school-record five touchdowns.