LOCAL SPORTS: HIGH SCHOOL FIELD HOCKEY PREVIEW

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Annapolis Panthers

1995 record: 8-5.

Coach: Stephanie Rowland Hunt

Top players: Suzanne Graf, Sr., F; Megen Taliaferro, Sr., D; Brittanie Oakley, Sr., M; Tricia Waite, Sr, G.

Outlook: A 2-1 loss to Severna Park in the 4A South semifinals ended Annapolis' season last year under Jennifer Russell who later resigned and was replaced by Hunt who coached the junior varsity last season. Hunt said it will be tough matching last year's 8-5 mark with a predominantly young team but she is hopeful. "I think definitely next year we'll be up there with the top teams," said Hunt. "I'm real excited because I see this team working hard and being dedicated. We're going to try and play the ball on the goal and use a lot of hard pushes instead of drives to get the ball up field."

Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers

1995 record: 11-4.

Coach: Mary Pat Bozel

Top players: Malia Swieconek, Jr., G; Amanda Gibboney, Sr., D; Kat Brady, Jr., F; Katie O'Connel, So., F; Kristin Seubott, Sr., D; Nikki Parisi, Sr., D; Amy Costello, Sr., D.

Outlook: Life without career scoring leader Stephanie Paxson will be tough for a few games but Bozel said her team's defense is good enough to carry the team until the offense comes around. Gibboney, a four-year returning sweeper, will make Swieconek's job in the goal a lot easier. O'Connel is expected to lead the offense in a season that has the Cavaliers moving from independent status to the tough AIS A Division. Spalding and heated rival St. Mary's are both going into the AIS A Division this year. Despite the loss of Paxson, Bozel believes her team is ready for the challenge. "Stephanie set an example and hopefully somebody will fill her shoes," said Bozel. "We have nine seniors and had big numbers [55] come out for the team this year. We have speed, experience and a well-balanced team."

Arundel Wildcats

1995 record: 7-3-1.

Coach: Clint Gosnell

Top players: Laura Buckman, Sr., D; Emily Metro, Sr., M; Megan Miller, Sr., F; Emily Rogers, Sr., F; Megan Tidwell, Jr., G; Sarah Herrmann, Jr., G.

Outlook: The Wildcats just keep getting stronger every year under Gosnell, who enters his seventh season and keeps flirting with a big upset over Severna Park. Arundel lost two first-team All-County picks in Kim Gonski and Jen Miller but some people believe the team can be as good or better than last year. Gosnell is downplaying that kind of talk and praising Severna Park coach Lil Shelton. "Lil is the kind of coach we all want to be," said Gosnell. "Everybody on her team is special to her. If you play for her, she treats you special no matter what your position on the team is." Gosnell will alternate Tidwell and Herrmann in the goal and emphasize a team-oriented offense. "I never expect to get the ball to one person. I expect our players to read the defense and get the ball to the right person," he said.

Broadneck Bruins

1995 record: 5-5-3.

Coach: Phoebe Kelly

Top players: Ashley Schroeder, Sr., M; Sarah Zaleski, Sr., M; Katie Bauer, Sr., F; Katie Tressler, Sr., F; Melissa Bragg, Sr., F; Sara Morell, Sr., D.

Outlook: The Bruins still own the honor of being the last Anne Arundel County team to beat Severna Park -- 1-0 overtime victory in 1989. But Kelly has no visions of grandeur at this 3A school, which is in transition this season. Students are attending classes at Severn River and Magothy River Middle Schools due to school construction. "My key objective is to keep developing players and hope for the best results," said Kelly. "The main difference between our program and Severna Park's is the numbers. It is a bigger school and they have more choices of players. We only had 36 come out this year." Broadneck will try to win this season with a few strong seniors mixed with some talented young

players.

Chesapeake Cougars

1995 record: 11-6.

Coach: Jerry Raab

Top players: Ryane Bellarin, Sr., D; Wendy Isom, Jr., M; Jessica Jones, Jr., A; Christy Gayhardt, Sr., D; Kristy Baker, Jr., M; Sarah Wyant, Jr., A; Mary Wald, Sr., M; Fajen (cq) Barker, Sr., A; Alissa Gilen (cq), Sr., G.

Outlook: With first-team All-County pick Bellarin back and second-team All-County selection Isom returning, the Cougars have a head start on many opponents and should have an excellent opportunity to return to the state 4A tournament. Bellarin is about as good as any defender around and Isom is gifted in the midfield. Add Jones, Gayhardt, Baker and Wyant to the mix and you get the nucleus of a team that will not only be experienced but talented and ready to challenge Severna Park again. Chesapeake has the luxury of playing in the county's North Division and is favored to meet the South Division winner, most likely Severna Park or Arundel, for the county title. "I know if we can defend, we have the people to put the ball in the goal this year," said Raab.

Meade Mustangs

1995 record: 5-6-3.

Coach: Nicki Meshbesher

Top players: Kim Forbes. Jr., G; T.J. Driver, Jr., D; Cristina Bowers, Jr., A; Lindsay Scoggins, Jr., A; Etta Edwards, So., D; Monica Walker, So., M; Melanie Marulli, Jr., M; Jessica Long, Jr., M.

Outlook: Bad luck continues to plague the Mustangs who should have All-County goalkeeper Jenn Snelson returning for her senior season. But Snelson has moved, leaving Meade with an inexperienced Forbes in the goal. "Kim is pretty quick and smart," said Meshbesher. "But she isn't as aggressive as Jenn." The good news for Meade is that some of its players are starting to attend the all-important summer camps and playing in summer leagues. Meshbesher moves up as head varsity coach from the junior varsity and said her team will have to win with sheer physical talent and enthusiasm.

North County Knights

1995 record: 0-12.

Coach: Brian Bowles

Top players: Julie Kniess, Jr., M; Kriste Stevens, Jr., D; Amy Brzuchalski, Sr., D; Angie Meyer, Jr., F; Kristy Barnes, Sr., F; Kim Blahut, Sr., M; Jill Rittenhouse, Jr., D.

Outlook: Bowles and the Knights continue to build from bottom up in his second year as head coach. They didn't get any rewards in terms of victories last season but there was some improvement in stickwork and the defense was fairly strong. Kniess should be the main scoring threat this season and Rittenhouse is expected to sparkle at the sweeper position. "We need to improve our scoring ability inside 16 yards and continue to work on dribbling and dodging," said Bowles.

Old Mill Patriots

1995 record: 3-10.

Coach: Denise Hermann

Top players: Jennifer Boyer, Sr., D; Laura Cooney, Sr., F; Dawn Wine, Jr., D; Eileen Pierce, Sr., F; Jen Pierce, So., G.

Outlook: Hermann is one of three new coaches in the county and is stepping into a tough position with a school that still lacks a good feeder system. Adding to the problems is the graduation of starting goalkeeper Amy Scott, leaving the goalkeeping in the hands of sophomore Jen Pierce. "The girls are responding to instructions and are thinking for themselves which is what I want to see," said Hermann. "We're basically striving to be a well-rounded team and working on the accuracy of our passes."

St. Mary's Saints

1995 record: 13-2-2.

Coach: Patti Lavell

Top players: Natalie Brookman, Sr., F; Ashley Rusk, Sr., M; Lauren Kenchington, Sr., M; Laura White, Sr., D; Kelly Stevens, Sr., G; Karis McGraw, Jr., G; Rebecca Kuehn, Sr., F; Whitney Carroll, So., F; Elizabeth Von Schwartz, So., F.

Outlook: Perfect timing. That is how Lavell describes the Saints' move from independent status to the AIS A Division. St. Mary's has 13 seniors, including the high-scoring Brookman, returning from last year's strong team and all of them have been playing together for four years. Brookman scored 11 goals and had five assists last season. "After Natalie, we're a pretty balanced team with a lot of depth," said Lavell. "I hope this is our year to beat Severna Park. It will take luck. Last year we had no luck. You usually get one chance to beat them and you need to take advantage of it. If you let down, they're there to pounce on it."

Severn Admirals

1995 record: 7-6-1.

Coach: Renie Sotiropoulis

Top players: Bess Freedlander, Sr., MF; Amy Galebach, Sr., D; Gussie Habeck, Sr., D; Jen Hartman, Jr., M; Jen Scott, So., F; Kelley Mahan, Sr., F.

Outlook: With a talented Freedlander expected to have an even better season than her first-team All-County performance last season and the Admirals looking to be more focused in a second season under Sotiropoulis, big things could be happening for this team this season. Even Sotiropoulis said Severn is "shooting for the championship game of the AIS A Conference." On the way to that title game, the Admirals would like to deal neighbor Severna Park a loss. "I didn't know Severna Park from Annapolis when I came here last year from Virginia," said Sotiropoulis whose team dropped a 3-2 decision to the Falcons last season. "Now I know what they're all about. They're a great team and very strong in the midfield, and we know they're going to come down the street for the opener singing and cheering. We'll be ready for them."

Severna Park Falcons

1995 record: 18-0.

Coach: Lil Shelton

Top players: Amy Noble, Sr., F; Laura Snider, Sr., G; Lauren Hancock, Sr., M; Kristin Crawford, Sr., F; Jen Dunham, Sr., D; Krista Bowerman, Jr., D; Julie Shank, So., D; Jess Gaither, So., M; Sarah Zuckerman, So., M; Amy Matthieu, Sr., G; Erin Bonk, Jr., F; Beth Horn, Jr., F; Katie Lewis, Sr., M; Jill Reim, Sr., M.

Outlook: All-everything Noble will lead the streaking Falcons (54 straight wins) against all comers this season and should be even better than her 19-goal, nine-assist performance last year. Noble was the Anne Arundel County Player of the Year and a first-team All-Metro selection last year. Also returning for Severna Park are All-Anne Arundel County first-teamers Dunham and Snider. Snider shared the goalkeeping duties with Matthieu during the regular season but emerged as a major force in the state 4A championship game with a spectacular performance in the final 15 minutes to save a 1-0 victory over Walt Whitman. If Snider continues to play like that it will only increase the odds against any team knocking off the Falcons this season. Shelton, who gives a lot of credit for the Severna Park success to junior varsity coach Ann Sweeney Andrews, plans to use two players at every position again this season with each seeing action for one half of the game.

Southern Bulldogs

1995 record: 3-10.

Coach: Carolyn Knowles

Top players: Jillian Williams, Sr., F; Laura Hudgins, Sr., F; Tiffany Hawkins, Sr., F; Lisa Silor, Sr., D; Amy Haught, So., D; Rachael O'Donnell, So., G; Ruth Rupp, Sr., M; Leeanne Davidson, Sr., M; Alicia Groveston, So., D.

Outlook: If the Bulldogs could have figured out a way to win the one-goal games last year, they would have easily had a winning season. Southern lost four of six one-goal games to fall to a 3-10 record. Hurting the team's chances of turning around those close games is the graduation of four-year starter in the goal Jesse Dixon. However, O'Donnell showed she might be ready to step in as a big-time keeper last year when she made 23 saves in a loss to St. Mary's. "I'm expecting good things out of Rachael," said Knowles.

South River Seahawks

1995 record: 4-10.

Coach: Camille McMains

Top players: Amanda Hopkins, Sr., F; Heather Rancourt, Sr., F; Lauren Waleryszak, Sr., F; Melissa Murray, Sr., M; Amanda Sadeghin, Sr., G; Kristen Peterson, Sr., D; Jen Goodman, Sr., D; Lauren Rudderow, Sr., F.

Outlook: Around South River, they are still hoping for miracles in field hockey as the team continues to lack highly skilled players. McMains has to be content to teach the basic skills and hope her players use them in pressure situations. "I'm trying to get our girls to run down the field with two hands on the stick instead of one and handle the ball while using their speed," said McMains. "If we don't win games, at least I want teams to remember they played us."

Pub Date: 8/29/96

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