COACH OF THE YEAR
* Mike Williams, Glenelg -- The Gladiators never have been a power in Howard County girls soccer, but that may be changing.
This season, Glenelg might have been the best team in the state not to make the playoffs. Williams took over a team that went 2-10 last year and turned it into a 7-4-1 team, good enough for fifth place in the county league as well as the region. It missed out on a Class 2A regional playoff spot by a half-point.
Williams gives the credit to his players, 18 of whom play club soccer. But Williams brought the Gladiators back from a potentially crushing 8-1 loss to Liberty in the season-opener. After that they allowed just 11 goals the rest of the way. They outshot their opponents, 359-192, and averaged about 30 shots per game.
Williams used a marking defense at every position to limit the opponents' opportunities. "Our philosophy was we're going to be right with you all the time, and if you can beat us to the ball, then you have a chance to win," said Williams, the Glenelg athletic director who has coached soccer at every level from rec to college.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
* Tricia Witte, senior, Oakland Mills, forward -- The top gun in Howard County this season, Witte had 20 goals and 11 assists. Combining blazing speed and nifty ball-handling with a determined go-to-goal drive, Witte had at least one goal in each regular-season game and added an assist in the Scorpions' regional semifinal loss to Hammond.
More than just a prolific scorer, however, the All-State first-teamer came up big in the big games. She scored all of Oakland Mills' goals in regular-season victories over Centennial, Wilde Lake and Hammond.
"No one has ever had a season like that that I can remember," said Scorpions coach Steve Matters. "We climbed on her back all year long. She's a complete striker, and every team had to adjust to her. They double-teamed her or tried something else to stop her."
Without Witte, the Scorpions certainly would have lacked the finishing touch that took them to a 9-2-2 record, a second-place tie (with Hammond) in the county and the top-seeded spot in the Class 1A-2A regional playoffs.
ALL-COUNTY FIRST TEAM
* Liz Bielefeld, senior, Hammond, midfield -- Playing center midfield for the state Class 1A-2A runners-up, Bielefeld had four goals and eight assists. Nearly all of her assists came off corner kicks as did one of her goals. A hard-nosed defender as well, Bielefeld has been one of the county's most underrated players, said coach Dave Guetler. After being hampered with injuries for three years, Bielefeld played almost a complete season, earning All-State second-team honors.
* Allison Bielski, senior, Centennial, defense -- Although this All-State second-teamer usually played in the midfield, Bielski was primarily a marking back for the regional champ Eagles, who fell in the state Class 3A-4A final to Severna Park, 1-0. A tough defender who rarely fouled, she drew all the big assignments and marked some of the area's top players out of the game. A converted striker, Bielski also scored three goals and had an assist.
* Laura Bradburn, Centennial, senior, keeper -- Coach Rick Pizarro called his 5-foot-4 keeper "amazing." Although a few balls did slip in over her head, Bradburn gave up just nine goals. Capable of coming out and stealing the ball off a striker's foot, Bradburn made 80 saves. Her impressive performance proved a key to the No. 7 Eagles' 8-3-3 season, especially since the offense averaged fewer than three goals per game -- down from about five a year ago.
* Carrie Chao, senior, Wilde Lake, defense -- A repeat first-team All-County pick, Chao anchored the defense at sweeper for the 10-3-1 Wildecats. The field general in coach Rick Wilson's game plan that stressed defense, Chao was a big reason the No. 12 Wildecats finished 6-1 in Howard County and won the county title. She was also an All-State first-team selection.
* Michelle Clare, sophomore, Centennial, forward -- Despite her youth, Clare packed a big punch in the Eagles' offense. She led the team in scoring with 16 goals. With an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time, Clare did not take many shots but she hit a large percentage of them. Although she lacks the blinding speed of the other first-team strikers, Clare made up for it with strong moves to the goal.
* Ginny Dye, sophomore, Oakland Mills, midfield -- This versatile All-State second-teamer did a little bit of everything for the No. 11 Scorpions. The midfield catalyst, she made things happen, often kicking the ball up to forward Tricia Witte. She also set up her other teammates and finished with eight assists and 13 goals. But she could come up with a big defensive game when the Scorpions needed her to stay back.
* Christina Flowers, senior, Glenelg, midfield -- The leading scorer for the Gladiators, Flowers hammered in all five of her goals in critical situations. She also scored four assists. At center halfback, the All-State first-teamer played tremendous defense, too. Flowers was the main factor in limiting the opposition's shots as the Gladiators outshot the competition, 359-192, en route to a 7-4-1 season.
* Natalie Froman, senior, Wilde Lake, forward -- The leading scorer for the county champs, Froman had 11 goals and five assists. With a great sense for the goal, she also could beat just about anyone one-on-one. Her great ball-control skills and good moves made her a long-distance threat. An All-State first-team selection, she guided the Wildecats (10-3-1) into the regional final, in which they fell to Hammond.
* Molly Hood, senior, Glenelg, defense -- An All-State honorable-mention pick, Hood played every minute of the season at sweeper. A highly skilled player, Hood was the leader of the Gladiators' defense. Although she doesn't have blazing speed, Hood has the quickness and the field sense to match up with anyone. She scored a goal and had an assist as the Gladiators (7-4-1) finished fifth in the county.
* Kisha Jett, senior, Hammond, forward -- A first-team All-Metro -- striker last year, Jett set a school record for career goals with 72. She added 15 this season despite missing five games -- most of them with an ankle injury. The All-State first-teamer also had two assists. Although known for her speed, Jett gets more of an edge from her quickness. When she's in front of the net, she can react quickly enough to get a foot on almost any ball.
* Rebecca Powell, junior, Howard, defense -- This sweeper was the bright spot in a 3-8-1 season for the young Lions. Although the Lions gave up five or six goals in a few games, coach Dave Vezzi said that did not reflect Powell's performance. With good speed and ball-control skills, Powell did everything she could to hold off the opposition. She carries a 4.0 grade-point average.
* Tanya Riismandel, sophomore, Centennial, defense -- The anchor of the defense that carried the Eagles this season, Riismandel excelled at sweeper. Very calculating in her defensive tactics, she made few mistakes. Probably the fastest player on the Eagles team, she was always cool under pressure. A smart player, she worked well with keeper Laura Bradburn as the Eagles gave up just nine goals.
* Renny Trellis, senior, Wilde Lake, midfield -- This All-State first-teamer was second in scoring for the county champions. At center halfback, she controlled the midfield, playing excellent defense while setting the offense in motion. With great field sense and good moves, Trellis also could go to goal and was a strong finisher.
* Kacy Williams, senior, Hammond, midfield -- An All-Metro first-teamer last year, Williams controlled the midfield for the No. 4 Bears. An All-State pick for three straight years and All-South for two, Williams had her best offensive season, contributing 11 goals and eight assists. Defensively, however, Williams stood out even more. With no weaknesses in her game, she dominated the midfield. If the Bears took an early lead, however, coach Dave Guetler often moved her back to sweeper to bolster the backfield. "I can't say enough about Kacy," said Guetler. "She is Hammond soccer. She puts it all together."
Player of the Year: Tricia Witte, Oakland Mills
Coach of the Year: Mike Williams, Glenelg
Player .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..School.. .. .. .. Class.. .. Position
Michelle Clare . .. .. .. .. Centennial.. .. ..Sophomore...Forward
Natalie Froman .. .. .. .. .. Wilde Lake .. .. Senior .. ...Forward
Kisha Jett .. .. .. .. .. .. Hammond .. .. .. ..Senior .. ...Forward
Tricia Witte . .. . .. .. .. Oakland Mills .. . Senior .. .. ..Forward
Liz Bielefeld.. .. .. .. .. ..Hammond .. .. .. Senior .. .. Midfield
Ginny Dye .. .. .. .. .. .. Oakland Mills.. .. .Sophomore.. . Midfield
Christina Flowers.. .. .. .. Glenelg .. .. .. . Senior.. .. . Midfield
Renny Trellis .. .. .. .. .. Wilde Lake.. .. .. Senior. .. Midfield
Kacy Williams.. .. .. .. .. .. Hammond.. .. .. .Senior .. .Midfield
Allison Bielski.. .. .. .. .. Centennial.. .. ..Senior .. .. Defense
Carrie Chao.. .. .. .. .. .. Wilde Lake.. .. ...Senior.. .. . Defense
Molly Hood .. .. .. .. .. .. Genelg .. .. .. ...Senior .. .. . Defense
Rebecca Powell.. .. .. .. .. ..Howard .. .. .. .Junior.. .. Defense
Tanya Riismandel.. .. .. .. .. Centennial... .. Sophomore.. Defense
RF Laura Bradburn .. .. .. .. .. Centennial.. .. . Senior.. .. Keeper
HOW THE TEAM WAS PICKED
The Baltimore Sun All-Howard County Girls Soccer Team was selected by Katherine Dunn after consultation with county coaches.