So just how much depth does the No. 1-ranked St. Mary's girls soccer team have?
It took only 15 minutes into the first half of the Saints' season opener - a 1-0 win over Frederick County power Thomas Johnson - to find out.
That's when coach Jerry Tobin sent three freshmen - Jennifer Dunbar, Alison Reinhart and Erin Spaniol - into the game for their first varsity action. Fellow freshman Jennifer Naylor had entered moments earlier, replacing junior standout Kelly Hammond (torn hip flexor muscle) at midfield.
"No. 1, that says we have a few good freshmen," Tobin said. "One of our major concerns going into the season was our depth. Four kids didn't come back, and the four freshmen have stepped up tremendously. They've provided us with a great amount of depth."
That's a necessity in the demanding Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland's A Conference. The Saints expect to make a strong run at the conference championship starting at 4 p.m. today with a home match against Archbishop Spalding.
From there, St. Mary's will compete in the Pioneer Tournament at Anne Arundel Community College over the weekend. The four-team outing will get started Friday with No. 3 River Hill going up against No. 7 South River at 5:30 p.m. St. Mary's will then take on Arundel at 7:30. The consolation match is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, with the championship match to follow at 3.
After struggling to finish off chances against Thomas Johnson, the Saints improved to 2-0 with a 9-0 victory over St. Mary's Ryken on Friday behind a four-goal performance from senior Melissa Anderson. Hammond is expected to miss anywhere between two and 10 weeks.
Sample sisters make mark
Also making an immediate impression last week at Severna Park were the Sample sisters, junior Kerie and sophomore Sarah, transfers from St. Mary's.
Kerie scored both goals in the No. 4 Falcons' 2-1 opening victory over Northeast - rocketing the first one from 20 yards out, then dribbling through the Eagles' defense for the game-winner. Sarah had two goals over the weekend as the Falcons won two of three games in the McDonogh Invitational.
Severna Park coach Chuck Seivert continues to move his two new standouts around the field to see where they blend in best with an already talented nucleus that includes Erin Dubina, Allison Dooley, Kate Hickman and Lauren Mitchell.
The Falcons will get another strong early-season test Thursday when they travel to face defending IAAM A Conference champion and No. 6 John Carroll.
Falcons, Reds meet again
In field hockey, No. 1 Severna Park will take a fourth crack at Roland Park in the Sally E. Nyborg Invitational at 4 p.m. Friday. The No. 4 Reds (2-0-1) have come away with victories the previous three years against the Falcons, including a 3-2 victory last fall in which they trailed 2-0 at halftime.
The Falcons, who opened with a 3-0 victory over neighborhood rival Severn, will then play fellow state power Bethesda-Chevy Chase at 12:30 Saturday afternoon. The two schools have combined to win 21 public schools state titles.
Finally, for a third straight year, Annapolis and Southern played to a 0-0 draw.