When Loch Raven girls soccer coach Mike Parker graduated much of his veteran defense after a state championship season, he wasn't too concerned. He believed he had the players to fill the holes in the back. What he didn't have was a big scorer.
Danielle Nicholson, however, might be ready to fill the bill. With five goals in the first three games, Nicholson scored the most important in Wednesday's 1-0 upset of then-No. 8 Franklin. On a perfect cross from Jen Hild in a wind-aided second half, Nicholson headed the ball near the penalty stroke line, and it bounced over the keeper's head.
In the first half, Franklin had the wind at its back, but the Raiders' defense held firm. Lauren Askey, who missed all of last season with a back injury, joined stopper Lauri Goon, fullbacks Diane Adcock and Shannon Stierhoff and rotating goalies Kate Chapman and Rachel Wisner to post three shutout wins in three games.
"I was concerned about how well they would play as a team," said Parker, whose team, now ranked 11th, last season tied for the Class 1A title with Smithsburg. "So far, this team has jelled more so than most teams I've had, on and off the field."
Returning only three starters from last year's Class 4A state semifinalist team that finished 13-4, Perry Hall coach Brian Moen was prepared to endure a relative rebuilding season.
The Gators (3-0-1) built a two-goal lead on goals by Jason Cromwell and Mike Velaetis in a 2-1 victory over defending Baltimore County champion and then-No. 6 Eastern Tech (2-1).
"Any time you can beat a talented team like Eastern Tech, it's a great win. It should give us a lot of momentum heading into the heart of the league schedule," said Moen, whose Gators debut at No. 8 in The Sun's poll ahead of No. 9 Eastern Tech.
"But it's one game, and it's only September, so we still have a lot of soccer left. We'll enjoy the win, but we're not going to get overly excited about it."
Mercy's victory in the Spiked Shoe Invitational cross country meet Saturday was its first win in any major running event since its program began in 1996. The Magic set a meet record with 33 points, placing four runners in the top seven.
What makes the win even more impressive is that only one of the Magic's top five girls had ever run cross country before. Sophomore Maggie King, who finished seventh, is the veteran.
Senior Mary Buettner finished third in 20 minutes, 55.6 seconds in her first meet, followed by teammates Jamie Antonious, Kaitlin Gass, King and Hope Davis.
Towson's volleyball players were looking forward to Saturday's scheduled match with Northern of Calvert County after beating the Patriots in last year's Bulldog tournament on the Eastern Shore.
But when Towson coach Jayne Lacy noticed that the Patriots were scheduled to play Broadneck on Friday night, she wondered why they would schedule the No. 1 and defending Class 2A state champion Generals the next day at 1 p.m. Turns out they didn't.
"We were not on their schedule," Lacy said. "It was some kind of miscommunication, but it's a major disappointment for us."
The Generals will have to hope their paths cross in the prestigious Bulldog tournament on Oct. 5.
Wright team, wrong score
C. Milton Wright's field hockey team won the Dundalk tournament on Saturday, although the championship was reported as a loss in The Sun. The Mustangs, who beat Northeast, 3-0, in the semifinal, got two goals from Sarah Keller and one from Lauren Greenberg in the 3-0 title-game win over the host Owls.