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Anne Arundel County

Despite a coaching change with Brien McMurray taking over at Severna Park (14-5) for Mike Bellotte, the Falcons' beat should go on.

Attack Blake Best, midfielder Mitch Bellisle and defenders Jacon Baxter and Tommy Zichelli make the defending county champ and 4A-3A finalist the county team to beat.

Annapolis (12-7), an 18-9 loser to Mount Hebron in the 3A-2A final, Arundel (9-7) and Broadneck (9-6) could challenge. Southern (14-4), the 2A-1A runner-up to Centennial by 16-6, has a good returning nucleus.

North County (11-6) plays its first season without Paul Shea as head coach. Shea retired and was replaced by Ryan Lanigan, a Long Island native.

Baltimore City

In Baltimore City's A Division, champ Patterson returns midfielder Thomas Smith and defender Marques Thompson.

Forest Park counts attackmen Tavon Burrows (59 goals, 31 assists), Claude Davenport (30, 30) and Deshaun McCorkle (34, 19) among its eight returning starters. And rank Walbrook, losers of just three league games in as many seasons, among the A Division contenders with attackman Steven Hill, defender Brandon Jackson and attack-middie Joseph Benjamin.

"We should breeze through the B Division," said Douglass coach John Robinson. Southern and Lake Clifton will contend in a wide-open C Division.

Baltimore County

Dulaney again will rule Division I of Baltimore County, with distant challenges from Hereford, Pikesville and Towson. The three-time state champion Lions return two each in top attackmen and midfielders, along with a solid defender.

Pikesville All-American goalie Jesse Schwartzman, Hereford's midfield of Adam Goloboski and Brett Yoder and Towson's returning attack of Tim Skeen and Doug Colonell can make it interesting.

The leader of the pack in Division II appears to be Dundalk, which boasts nine starters among its 17 returning players.

Chesapeake-BC has a lot of talent returning and looks to be the leader in Division III.

Carroll County

Coming off an unbeaten season in both the county and Central Maryland Conference, Westminster again should be the team to beat in Carroll.

The Owls (14-2 last season) return seven starters, including first-team All-County Matt Duke, a midfielder who runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds and has a shot clocked at over 90 mph, and Brad Baer, who will play football and lacrosse at McDaniel College.

One of the most dangerous teams in the county could be Liberty. Still young, the Lions (10-5) return a strong defense led by second-team All-County pick Zack Hinton and senior Brad Schleicher. Former Liberty and Loyola College player Kevin Roy takes over the helm.

Harford County

Traditionally, Fallston and C. Milton Wright battle for the county's top spot, while everybody else plays for third. That is possible again this year, though North Harford could change that.

From a state semifinalist, the Cougars lost their two top scorers to graduation and three of their top defensemen, but they do return seniors Adam Wade and Travis Porter and got a boost when Steve Bosse transferred in from Calvert Hall.

Pat Hanley, the top scorer in the county last year, returns, along with Trevor Zorbach, to lead C. Milton Wright.

With 17 letter winners back, North Harford is extremely optimistic, as is Joppatowne.

Howard County

Centennial returns three first-team all-county starters from a team that went 17-2 and won a 2A-1A state title.

Those three include senior midfielders Evan Calvert (27 goals, 43 assists) and Pat Davis (33, 16) and senior attackman Mike Down (47, 22). Another senior attackman, Sean Dougherty, was second-team all-county.

Mount Hebron won a 3A-2A state title last season while posting a 12-5 record, but the Vikings return only two starters, goalkeeper Will Sepich and attackman Brenden Moore.

Glenelg has a new coach in Mike Williams and returns eight starters from a 12-5 team. Oakland Mills (6-8) also has eight returning starters.

Private schools

Boys' Latin is the defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference champ, but it's going to be difficult to repeat with Loyola, Gilman, Severn, McDonogh and St. Mary's all returning teams capable of navigating their way toward the top spot.

Look for Park to make a run at the B Conference title, having returned the bulk of its talent - including all-league goalie Spencer Hickock and defender Andrew Eifler - from a team that lost, 10-9, to Spalding in the title game.

Midfielder Matt Latonick will try to help Spalding retain its crown, and defending C Conference champ Glenelg Country School of Howard County will try to do the same.

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