Although several of the county's stars from last year are gone, Harford County programs appear to be getting stronger, with several teams looking to improve their lot this season.
As always, the road to field hockey supremacy goes through Fallston. The Cougars, 15-3 last season, won the Class 3A state title and don't figure to disappoint this year. Fallston returns most of its scoring, and the biggest hole the Cougars must fill is the loss of Ashley Staples, a four-year starter in the goal. Still, with players like senior Stephanie Ogle, junior Amanda Novak and senior Stephanie Yancone, the team should have no trouble scoring. Junior Allie Goetz leads the defense.
Fallston coach Alice Puckett likes the work ethic of the returnees, and is looking for her seniors to "raise the bar this year." After a state championship last season, though, the Cougars won't have to raise it much.
Pushing the Cougars will be Bel Air, 8-5-1 last season. Again, the Bobcats return a lot of talent, but must get over the hump of beating Fallston in the regionals.
The Bobcats lost most of their front line to graduation, and replacing goal scorer Jacque LaFleur will be a major challenge. Most of the midfield and defense return. The team will be led by seniors Kathleen Nevin (midfield), and Devon Walsh (goal).
C. Milton Wright had a strong season last year, but the Mustangs graduated all but three starters from a 7-5-2 team. Coach Carla Harwood says the offense looks strong, but rebuilding the defense will be a priority. Seniors Meghan Zorn (defense), Stacy McNamee (forward) and Stephanie Dibelka (midfield) will have to assume leadership roles if the team is to do well.
Last year was a story of two different seasons for North Harford. The Hawks started out slow, but came on strong toward the end. Five seniors have left, but nine others return. Junior goalie Meghan Germano comes back, and she will be supported by a strong midfield led by seniors Keira Benson and Amy Stancavitch. The Hawks lost more than their share of close games last year, so coach Barbara Waite, whose specialty is defense, says her aim is to double the number of goals from last year.
Havre de Grace will return a young team, and this figures to be a rebuilding year for the Warriors. Four seniors remain (midfielders Angel Rockwell and Shannon Turner, forward Elaine Wiley and defender Kim Wimer), and they will be the leaders at the respective positions.
Coach Debbie Bowman is expecting a much better season than last year's 3-12 record at Aberdeen. The Eagles scored 16 goals all year, with 13 coming from attacker Kelly Ault, so increasing the number of goals is a priority. Ault will be aided by senior defender Mary Main and senior goalie Rae Bolich.
At Joppatowne, coach Mega Lukasavage returns a strong group of seniors, led by Jenny Coisham and Stella Kalambilis.
Edgewood will have an inexperienced group returning from a 3-9 team. Juniors Ashley Mellow (defender), Kaitlin Sullivan (defender) and Alicia Wells (forward) will help the Rams grow toward next season.
At the private school level, John Carroll moves from the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference to the B Conference, but coach Tess Gauthier says the Patriots are ready. Senior Jana Facchinei will again provide most of the scoring, with senior Karen Baxter shoring up the defense in goal.
Harford Christian will be led by juniors Colleen Akers (goalie) and Casey Mears (forward).