McDonogh's Richie Nichols helped the Eagels to an MIAA A Conference championship last season.
McDonogh's Richie Nichols helped the Eagels to an MIAA A Conference championship last season. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Ben Bender

Calvert Hall, senior, midfielder

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In a stacked MIAA A Conference field, Calvert Hall has the one proven do-everything player that the other teams don’t. A four-year starter, All-Metro pick and captain, Bender is the area’s top difference-maker. He’s an end-to-end catalyst with impeccable game sense, vision and technical ability. Coming off a nine-goal, six-assist junior season, he’s primed to lead the Cardinals to an extended playoff run.

Ethan Dolezal

C. Milton Wright, senior, midfielder

Playing in the shadow of last year’s prolific senior class, Dolezal is eager to take on a bigger role for the two-time defending Class 3A state champions. He appears up for the challenge coming off a three-goal, seven assist junior campaign. Dolezal brings a physical presence, gifted talent on the ball and the consistent desire to outplay the opponent across from him. Primarily a facilitator in year’s past (he also had 11 assists as a sophomore), he’ll be looking to score more goals this season.

Grant Farley

Gilman, junior, goalkeeper

An All-Metro second-team selection as a sophomore, Farley continues to refine his play in goal to keep the Greyhounds in every game. For starters, he’s incredibly athletic, able to quickly get off his line and defend against balls served into the box. His positioning and distribution has steadily improved with more experience, and he’s emerging as a vocal leader. Last year, Farley averaged five saves and recorded nine shutouts in the Greyhounds’ 14-6-2 season.

Caeden Fong

Towson, junior, goalkeeper

After taking over the starting job in the middle of his freshman season, Fong has established himself as one of the area’s top goalies. He’s always in control of the penalty area, which provides comfort for his teammates. Understanding the position and the angles helps make the job easier, and when the time comes to make the big save, his anticipation and aggressiveness takes over. With the Generals reaching the Baltimore County championship game and region championship the past two years, he has valuable big-game experience.

Spencer Hanks

Arundel, senior, forward

No area player did more for his team’s success than Hanks, who scored an Anne Arundel County-high 21 goals and three assists in leading the Wildcats (10-5-3) to the Class 4A East title game. Set to become a four-year starter, he’s often used alone up top with the Wildcats leaning on his smart runs and gifted work on the ball to produce offense. The All-Metro first-team selection, who also plays at midfield, takes 43 goals and 13 assists into his senior year.

River Hill's Alex Krause tries to turn on Southern-AA defender's Jack Malloy during the 2A South regional championship game at River Hill High School on Monday, November 5, 2018.
River Hill's Alex Krause tries to turn on Southern-AA defender's Jack Malloy during the 2A South regional championship game at River Hill High School on Monday, November 5, 2018. (Jen Rynda / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Alex Krause

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River Hill, senior, forward

One of the most difficult defensive assignments in the area will be trying to knock Krause off the ball. The All-Metro forward has a natural knack for getting open and is powerful, highly skilled and decisive with the ball. After playing Academy ball his first two high school years, he went on to score 15 goals and added nine assists last season with the Hawks.

Dillon Nesteruk

Eastern Tech, senior, midfielder

A four-year varsity player and captain this season, Nesteruk brings versatile two-way skills, leadership and the desire to make a difference. Last season, he broke through as a goal scorer with 15 goals to go with three assists. While the UMBC commit will see most of his time at center midfield, he’s also capable of playing up front or in back.

Richie Nichols

McDonogh, junior, midfielder

McDonogh’s plan is for Nichols to have the ball at his feet as much as possible this season, knowing good things will happen. He brings game sense, vision and energy that stretches the field. After playing Academy ball in his freshman year, Nichols made an immediate impact in helping the Eagles win the MIAA A crown last season. He finished with nine goals and six assists, including a clutch one-goal, one-assist performance in the Eagles’ 2-1 semifinal win over Gilman.

Matt Owusu

McDonogh, senior, defender

A starter as a freshman who returns after two years playing Academy ball, Owusu is a major addition to the Eagles defense at center back. He is smooth and athletic, and his leadership will keep the defense organized. One of his biggest attributes is his ability to win balls and quickly find teammates with precise passes to get the Eagles moving forward.

Tyquan Stroud

Mount Saint Joseph, junior, midfielder

A dynamic force since starting as a freshman, the All-Metro second-team pick is primed for even more as his game matures and his responsibilities grow for the Gaels. Strong and crafty on the ball with excellent game sense, the versatile Stroud will play all over the field. He led the team in goals for a second straight season last year with eight to go with six assists.

Other players to watch

Christian Barnes, Friends

Sean Barwick, Calvert Hall

Eli Belcher, Chesapeake-AA

Ethan Belcher, Chesapeake-AA

Gordie Bernlohr, Severna Park

Gregory Borisov, Dulaney

Jeff Bruner, Howard

Taylor Calheira, Concordia

Carter Chesney, South Carroll

Mason Christian, McDonogh

Kenny Clapp, Archbishop Curley

Nick Dunstan-Maiese, C. Milton Wright

Julian Elguera, River Hill

Shane Ervin, Liberty

Tyler Harry, Archbishop Curley

Niko Hillary, Hereford

Christo Hodrogiannis, Fallston

Dmitri Jordan, Mount Saint Joseph

Reilly Joyce, Broadneck

Logan Kaufmann, Hereford

Erick Kim, Perry Hall

Ben Kropp, Eastern Tech

Jimmy Linsenmeyer, Mount Hebron

Chase Llewellyn, Loyola Blakefield

Tyler Madairy, Broadneck

Jakub Mihulka, Francis Scott Key

Ed Romero, Winters Mill

Julian Schmugge, Loyola Blakefield

Ethan Shulgold, Wilde Lake

Emre Sipos, Bel Air

Reice Thuerrauch, Loch Raven

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