Atholton drops into Class 2A this season, but that is a mixed blessing because the move lands the Raiders in a region with Hammond and Oakland Mills as well as last year's state runner-up Chopticon.
Before they think about postseason play, however, the Raiders have to think about improving on last year's 3-5-4 record.
Those numbers did not give the Raiders a regional playoff berth last season. In the county, they also struggled, picking up just one win.
This season, the Raiders show some promise for improving on their record, but they don't have much experience. Only four starters return.
On defense, only starter Michelle Zick is back. A center halfback, Zick is one of the county's top returning defenders. Consistent and with uncanny ability to anticipate what the attack players will do, Zick also has great stickwork.
Joining Zick at halfback are returning junior Rachel Black and sophomore Melissa Goglia, who moves up from JV. Junior Jill Keefer also moves up from JV to take over at sweeper.
In the cage, sophomore Sarah Geatz, moves up from JV to take the starting job. A quick aggressive player, Geatz already shows the grace under pressure of an upperclassman. Last year's back-up keeper, senior Kelly Walsh, will remain in reserve.
Despite the youth, coach Carol Stevens expects her defense to remain pretty solid.
"We're very settled on defense, very safe and secure," said Stevens. "We've done a lot of work on the defense, and now we're more focused on attack."
The keys to the offense will be a couple of returning starters, third-year players Nikki Auclair and Pam Yep. Auclair, a forward, has started for the past two years and should be the Raiders' top finisher.
Yep, the dominant midfielder, also can score and will keep the Raiders moving on transition. The other starting midfield slot goes to senior Lea Jones, a part-time starter last season.
While one position on the forward line remains up for grabs, two more seniors will join Auclair at forward. Cindy Chae, who moved into a starting slot late last season, takes one spot while senior Shampa Ghosh, in her first starting position, claims the other.
Atholton opens its season with a non-league game against Fallston followed by contests against Lackey, Liberty, West Lake and Glenelg Country before playing host to Hammond in its league opener.
If the Raiders can improve on last season's record, they might continue on an upward trend after having one of their best turnouts ever.
More than 50 girls came out for the team, and Stevens kept 41, including 17 freshmen on JV.