1 Fallston -- The defending Class 1A-2A state champion Cougars have nine regulars returning from their 17-0 season. This year, Nancy Ferguson's team makes the jump to Class 3A-4A. Senior striker Beth Blasi, last season's Harford County Player of the Year, leads a potent attack up front. She has scored 37 goals and added 20 assists over the past two seasons and has Courtney Benner (17 goals, eight assists last season) to work with again up front. The defense yielded 14 goals in 17 games last season with returning goalie Emily Weibel recording nine shutouts.
2 McDonogh -- See capsule.
3 Centennial -- Most of the key components from last year's undefeated Class 3A-4A state championship team return and co-coaches Dave Greenberg and Kevin Flynn are confident this year's version is as good or better. There isn't a better center midfielder in the area than junior Lauren Molinaro, Howard County's Player of the Year in 1994. Senior Michelle Clare is the big threat up front with the defense anchored by senior goalkeeper Rima Sidhu and senior sweeper Tania Riismandel.
4 Perry Hall -- See capsule.
5 Arundel -- Coach Paul Yannuzzi has 15 players returning from last year's 10-2-1 team. The Wildcats were a game away from winning the Arundel County championship last season and that's their aim this season. The senior-laden Wildcats are led by striker Kristen Smeby (eight goals, six assists in 1994) and midfielders Christy Nichols and Sally Schoenfeld. Junior forward Jill Jones is expected to make a big impact up front.
6 Loch Raven -- See capsule.
7 C. Milton Wright -- Peter Griffiths, an assistant coach with the Mustangs last year, takes over for Ken Dawson and has a lot of returning players to work with. Everything starts from the back for the Mustangs with senior sweeper Miranda James, a converted striker from last season who earned second-team All-Metro status. Senior striker Becky Gerhart had at least a goal or an assist in nine of the Mustangs' 12 regular-season games and added three more goals in postseason play. Senior Erin Updegrove, a two-time all-Harford performer, returns in goal.
8 Dulaney -- See capsule.
9 Severna Park -- The Falcons, a Class 3A-4A state semifinalist a year ago, have one of the stingiest defenses in the metro area led by three-year starting goalkeeper Shannon Chaney, who's allowed 15 goals the past two years. Senior defenders Jess Miller and Susan Starke also return. Coach Joyce Stefancik will rely on senior Beth Anne Houck to solidify the midfield with senior Lindsey Poland (eight goals, eight assists last season) moving up to forward after playing midfield last year.
10 Oakland Mills -- Coach Steve Matters has eight starters back from last year's team that reached the 1A-2A state final. Senior Ginny Dye makes a lot of things happen up front. Last season, she scored 21 goals and added 12 assists to earn first-team All-Metro status. Junior Nyeisha Ford returns in goal for a Scorpion team that recorded six straight shutouts down the stretch.
11 Liberty -- The Lions made a third straight state playoff appearance in 1994, losing to eventual Class 1A-2A champ Fallston. A good portion returns this season led by junior forward Shanna Ziegenfuss (24 goals) and senior Michelle Clawson, who likely will move to center midfield after spending most of last season at stopper. Clawson was a first-team All-Metro selection and Ziegenfuss was a second-teamer in 1994. The Lions have a lot of speed along the outside and junior goalkeeper Angie Primavera has improved her game.
12 Old Mill -- The Patriots have 14 players back from last year's team that reached the Class 3A-4A state semis. The depth and experience has enabled coach Bruce Sponsler to shuffle his lineup to field the best possible team. Senior Carina Sonberg was an All-Arundel striker with 15 goals after moving up from defense. Defenses can't just key on Sonberg with senior Alicia Curran returning up front. Senior midfielder Beth Walker is a three-year starter and the defense is set with senior captain Sara Kurzontkowski leading the way.
13 Hereford -- See capsule.
14 Wilde Lake -- Anita Andersch, who coached Wilde Lake's junior varsity team the past two years, inherits the varsity team that finished 11-3-1 under Rick Wilson. Senior Katie Douglas will move to center midfield after earning second-team All-Metro status as a sweeper last year. The defense will be young with junior Becky Froman, up from the junior varsity, taking over at sweeper and newcomers Beth Johnson and Jamie Marcus sharing time in goal.
15 South River -- The defending Anne Arundel champs return their county's top player of a year ago in senior striker Jess Marion, who had 22 goals and five assists. Senior Lorrie Estes will work up front and should get a lot of chances with opponents keying on Marion. Junior Theresa Beckett, a transfer from Riverdale Baptist, is a welcome addition at midfield with Tammy Mitchell and Val Smith anchoring the Seahawk defense.
How the poll is conducted: The Girls Soccer Top 15 is compiled by the local sports staff of The Baltimore Sun.