Teams at a glance

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Atholton Raiders

1998 record: 2-13 overall, 1-8 league

Coach: Wendall Thomas

Classification: 2A

Top players: Katie Allen, Sr., D; Jessica Obst, Jr., G/D; Michelle McKenna, Jr., M; Laurie Beckman, Jr., F; Liz Shields, Jr., G/F.

Outlook: "I like this group," said Thomas, who is starting his fourth season. "It's a good bunch to work with." The Raiders have midfield speed they hope to turn into scoring chances. But they need some players to step up and finish. Shields will get most of the time in goal, allowing Obst to play defender. Also on defense will be sophomore Caitlin Kelley, a transfer from New Jersey. Others who will contribute include junior Ashley Wall (M), sophomore Jessica Behm (M), and sophomore Christen Pena-Ariet (F). "We've been working very hard, and we're hoping that our conditioning pays off," Thomas said. "The girls are working very well together, and they know they'll have to do that to have a successful season." Allen is the only senior.

Centennial Eagles

1998 record: 13-6 overall, 5-4 league

Coach: Mike Senisi

Classification: 2A

Top players: Erica Niemann, Jr., G; Alison Woods, Sr., M/D; Maggie Via, Sr., F; Carolyn Schmid, Jr., D; Samantha Test, Soph., M.

Outlook: The Eagles graduated four players who were instrumental in last year's playoff success that culminated with the Class 2A state title. Still, Senisi believes this year's squad has the same potential. "This team is capable of going as far if we all work together," Senisi said. And so far, so good. "We have a great combination of kids -- we're all on the same page," Senisi said. "Their attitude has been great, and everybody is working hard to get better each day. It's just a positive environment." Via (10 goals last season) is back after knee surgery, and junior forward Ashley Evans (five goals) and junior midfielder Caitlin Jenkins will contribute on offense. Niemann is one of the top goalies in the county and Schmid, a sweeper, came into her own in the playoffs. Marking backs Courtney McDonald, a junior, and senior Shelly Sinclair round out what Senisi believes is a solid defensive group.

Chapelgate Flames

1998 record: 5-8

Coach: Sarah Crown

Classification: IAAM

Top players: Courtney Holley, Jr., D; Jenny Kotting, Sr., M; Kristen Lynott, Soph., F; Jessica Holtrop, Fr., M.

Outlook: With seven sophomores and seven freshmen on an 18-player roster, the Flames, who will compete in the new Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference, are very young. Still, Crown, who has been with the program four years, the last two as head coach, said "this is is the strongest team we've had since I've been here." One reason is Chapelgate's bench. "We have so much depth this year," Crown said. "I feel comfortable putting anyone in there without losing a step." Crown said the players are "very dedicated and are working very hard." Four starters return, including Holley and Kotting, who will be captains. Also contributing will be freshmen twins Karin and Kim Yagel and freshman Ayme Ricketts and sophomore Susie Both. Ricketts and Both will share goaltending duties and also play forward.

Glenelg Gladiators

1998 record: 10-6 overall, 6-3 league

Coach: Mike Williams

Classification: 1A

Top players: Kelly Renfro, Sr., M; Jen Fields, Jr., F; Lindsay Lewis, Soph., M; Katie Kirley, Jr., F; Stephanie Howell, Sr., M; Melissa Wilder, Sr., M; Bibi Warfield, Sr., D; Layne Buckler, Sr., D; Amanda Strandquist, Sr., D.

Outlook: "Offensively, this is the best group I've ever had," said Williams, who is in his seventh season. "The big question for us is how we hold up in the back." Renfro (seven goals, two assists) and Fields (eight, 10) are the top returning scorers. The Gladiators, whose winning county record was the program's first since 1980, graduated their top defensive players -- All-County performers Lori Tvarkunas and goalie Jamie Epperlein. Senior Kristin Nairns, Epperlein's backup last season, will start this year, and senior Kelly Jones also will see playing time. "Both are great kids and have been working hard and supporting each other," said Williams. Glenelg returns nine players with starting experience. Renfro and Wilder are four-year starters, and Kirley, Howell, Warfield, Buckler and Strandquist are three-year starters. Lewis is a two-year starer. "We've got lots of experience and good team speed. I see us being competitive in every game," Williams said. Junior defenders Erin Edell and Stephanie Simpson also will contribute, as will freshman midfielder Chrissy Starcher. "Can we win the county title?" said Williams. "Yes, if we play well in the back."

Hammond Golden Bears

1998 record: 17-1-1 overall, 8-1 league

Coach: Pete Di Marco

Classification: 2A

Top players: Martha Bielefeld, Sr., M/D; Meg Tilley, Sr., M; Katie Fink, Sr., F; Melissa Workman, Soph., M; Jen Osborne, Soph., D.

Outlook: Di Marco's "team of destiny" last season shared the county title with River Hill then won five playoff games -- three in shootouts -- en route to the Class 1A state title. Eleven players -- eight of them starters -- have graduated, but Di Marco still is very enthusiastic about this year's young team. "Are we as good as last year's team?," said Di Marco. "Probably not. But we're going to be competitive and win a lot of games. Our goal is to finish in the top three [in the county] and take our chances in the playoffs." The Golden Bears still have a good nucleus of talent, starting with Bielefeld (eight goals, 10 assists), Tilley (eight, eight) and the speedster Fink (10, three). Workman was instrumental in last years's playoff run, scoring late-game tying goals in two games and the game-winner against Glenelg. Di Marco said the offense will need to score often to "help take pressure off the defense." Only junior Sarah Walker returns from last year's defense. Tara Zamichielli, a junior who played last season on JV, will start in goal, taking over for All-Metro performer Lindsey Mitchell. Senior Missy Peltzman also will see playing time in goal. Other players that will contribute include freshman Lauren Nufer (M), senior Jen Hendin (F) and sophomore Ashley Pietrika (D). Half of Hammond's roster will be filled with sophomores and freshman. "It's a good group of young players," he said.

Howard Lions

1998 record: 3-13 overall, 1-8 league

Coach: Dave Vezzi

Classification: 2A

Top players: Rebecka Brasso, Sr., D; Amy Rappaport, Sr., M; Kristin Hughes, Sr., F; Sara Aefsky, Jr., G; Emily Riedel, Sr., M/D.

Outlook: "We're looking to improve on last year's record," said Vezzi, who coached the Lions varsity for four years before stepping down after the 1995 season. "The girls are working hard, and if we can get to .500 it will be a very good accomplishment." Brasso, a sweeper, is back after being injured much of last season. Rappaport, a returning first-team All-County selection, is the team's leading returning scorer (three goals, five assists). Vezzi has been pleased with conditioning and effort at practice. "They have a real good attitude, and I hope they keep it up," Vezzi said. "They're motivated and want to improve." The Lions have five seniors, and Vezzi said he might start two freshmen. Others who will contribute include juniors Stephanie Wagner (D), Katie McNulty (M) and Denise Wahlen and freshman Lauren Cepko (M).

Long Reach Lightning

1998 record: 4-10 overall, 2-7 league

Coach: Jennifer Peduzzi

Classification: 3A

Top players: Kai Freeman, Sr., M; Alison West, Jr., M/F; Candice Hills, Jr., M; Kate Rodriguez, Sr., D; Lisa Tucker, Sr., D.

Outlook: "Our goal is to be a county contender," said Peduzzi. "With our talent, there is no reason we can't play with these teams." The Lightning has eight returning starters, led on offense by West (11 goals, four assists), Freeman (four, three) and Hills (two, five). With another season of experience and maturity behind them, Peduzzi expects good things to happen. "We've never been .500, and we certainly will be over that this year. There's no excuse not to be," Peduzzi said. This year's team, Peduzzi said, has a different mind-set from other Lightning squads. "They're going into games with more confidence," she said. "In the past, we've been intimidated by certain players or teams. This year's team is going into games to win." The Lightning midfield is strong, but its defense needs work. "That's the area we're focusing on," said Peduzzi, who has three players vying to be the starting goalie. Other players that will contribute include sophomore Becky Ward (D), junior Shannon Pusey (D/M) and sophomore Kari Filipowicz (F). "This team is working well together," Peduzzi said."

Mount Hebron Vikings

1998 record: 11-5 overall, 7-2 league

Coach: Jonathan Davis

Classification: 2A

Top players: Katie Elliott, Sr., M/F; Julie Broden, Sr., F/M; Julie Napolitano, Soph., M; Kim Rekart, Jr., G; Annie Collins, Sr., D.

Outlook: "The sky's the limit," Davis said about his team's potential. "If there's anytime we should have a positive outlook it's this year." Why? "We've got two All-State players [Elliott and Broden] and a super sophomore in Julie Napolitano [a member of the Under-15 Olympic Development Program regional team]." Elliott led the county last season in goals (16) and assists (16), and Napolitano wasn't too far behind (12 goals, seven assists). Broden added nine goals and five assists. Those three are the main reason the Vikings should challenge for the county championship. "That's a big part of it, but only one part," Davis said. "Our whole team is more solid and deeper than in the past." And Davis credits Elliott, Broden and Napolitano for helping that happen. "They bring a lot of soccer experience and knowledge to us and are really stepping into their leadership roles," said Davis. "They truely want to help make the other players better." Mount Hebron's defense got a boost with the addition of Rekart, a transfer from Louisville, Ky. Rekart, who played goalie for the first time last season, helped her team to the regional final last year. Others expected to contribute include senior Jen Hazle (M) and sophomores Melissa McCarthy (M/D) and Stephanie Scurachio (M/D).

Oakland Mills Scorpions

1998 record: 5-10 overall, 4-5 league

Coach: Steve Matters

Classification: 1A

Top players: Molly Sunderdick, Sr., M; Nicole Petro, Sr., G; Katie Nutter, Soph., F; Shannon Glisan, Jr., M/D.

Outlook: Matters likes to say that his team "will show up" for every game. He did it again this year, but with a twist. "Hopefully, we'll give everybody a better game than we did last year. I expect us to do that." The experience of nine returning starters has a lot to do with Matters' optimism. "Our level of play is improved," he said. "How much we'll have to see. But we're definitely improved. Sunderdick, a fourth-year starter who had two goals and nine assists last season, is a solid player with one of the metro area's strongest throw-ins. She'll start in the center, but Matters said he'll "move her to the back if we need to protect a lead and put her up front if we need to score." Petro begins her third season as the starting goalie. Nutter, who had four goals and three assists last season, rolled her ankle in a scrimmage is will be out approximately four weeks. Other players that will contribute include senior defenders Heather Romich and Stephanie Amponsah, senior Lauren Fawcett (M/D), juniors Tori Parris (M) and Rachel Clinton (D/F) and sophomore Casey Hinson (M/D). Matters said the team is working hard and has a good outlook. "We're starting to get some good chemistry," he said.

River Hill Hawks

1998 record: 13-3-1

Coach: Joan Kelso Smedley

Classification: 3A

Top players: Natalie Klisas, Sr., D/M; Kelsey Cronin, Jr., D/M; Maria Masciantonio, Jr., M; Shannon Jackson, Jr., M; Rashida Walcott, Jr., F; Jessica Goertler, Sr., D.

Outlook: The Hawks have earned two straight county championships -- they shared last year's title with Hammond -- and are primed for a third. "The talent is there," said Smedley. "It's just a matter of bringing it all together as a team." And that's one of Smedley's top priorities. "The big thing we're working on is team unity, on and off the field," Smedley said. "A great example of that is the women's World Cup team. It shows when a team really clicks you can win anything." The Hawks are deep and and solid. Sophomore Ashley Hooper (F) and freshmen Erin Ferguson (G), Jaime Goertler (M) and Megan Buescher (M/D) are among the underclassmen who will contribute. Ferguson and junior Jen Wright are vying to start in goal. Jackson and Walcott each scored 10 goals last season and again will be counted on to provide scoring. Klisas, a first-team All-Metro selection, will lead the defense. Smedley said this year's team is "as strong or even stronger" than last year's squad that Centennial upset in the state Class 2A regional final. "I hope they can really bond as a team," Smedley said, "and to learn to respect and trust one another. Right now, everyone is getting along and having a good time."

Wilde Lake Wildecats

1998 record: 5-9-1 overall, 3-6 league

Coach: Marcy Leonard

Classification: 3A

Top players: Katie Kurcz, Sr., D; Lizzie Richman, Sr., D; Maggie Douglas, Sr., D; Carla Pistorio, Sr., F; Jackie Taubman, Jr., M.

Outlook: "We'll be improved over last year," said Leonard, whose team lost only two starters. "We have intelligent defenders, speedy midfielders and forwards that know how to find the back of the net." The Wildecats' experience will be a plus. "They know each other very well," Leonard said. "They know the ability each other has and can play to that ability. It's a very tightly-knit team. They all support each other." Other players that will contribute include senior Edna Dash (G), junior Sarah Hobert (G), sophomore Kara Shapiro (M) and Kelly Thomas (M) and junior Nicole Roy-Harrison (F). Leonard has made it a priority this season "to make every minute of every practice count." She's hoping that the "tough, intense and challenging" practices make the games easier. Pistorio and junior Megan Donohue are back after being injured last year.

Pub Date: 9/02/99

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