Outlook: The Eagles took the underdog route in repeating as league champs last season by upsetting previously undefeated Loyola Blakefield in the title game. With seven starters back and standouts at key spots, they go into this season as the team to beat in a crowded MIAA A field. The team’s strengths are through the middle with center back Matt Owusu, center midfielders Richie Nichols and Kyle Brown, and forward Mason Christian. The Eagles went into the season ranked No. 9 nationally by Top Drawer Soccer.
2. River Hill
Coach: Matt Shagogue
Last season: 16-1-1, No. 4
Postseason: Class 2A finalist
Outlook: Coming off a state title loss to Oakdale on penalty kicks has the Hawks driven for another extended playoff run, and there’s plenty of talent to do it. All-Metro forward Alex Krause will garner plenty of attention from defenses and he has enough surrounding talent to make opponents pay. Cameron Clairmont, Jed Dixon, Jeff Fuentes and Jonah Stoutenborough will play pivotal roles at midfield and forward with Julian Elguera the key cog in back. The Hawks make the jump to Class 3A this fall.
Outlook: With a senior-laden roster that features eight starters back and 19 returnees in all, Zinkand can’t help but see similarities between this year’s squad and the 2016 team that captured the MIAA A crown. Center midfielder Ben Bender is the catalyst with midfielder James Garfink, forward Sean Barwick and defenders Andy Christ and Jake Bleacher all bringing skills, experience and a common bond of wanting to bring home another championship.
Outlook: Throw Mount Saint Joseph into the group of MIAA A teams capable of bringing home a championship in the balanced field. The Gaels only graduated four seniors and have quality players all over the field that can make the difference. All-Metro midfielder Tyquan Stroud and Van Danielson are a dynamic one-two punch to initiate the offense and defender Dmitri Jordan, a four-year starter, keeps things in check in back. The team’s depth is another strength.
Outlook: An epic season ended difficultly for Loyola, which was knocked off by McDonogh in the title game. But the Dons, who graduated a special senior class, are building on their superlatives from last season. Only three full-time starters are back, but they are big-time players with forwards Chase Llewellyn and Julian Schmugge proven goal scorers and midfielder Dominic Caltabiano poised in the middle. The Dons are confident the program’s established culture will keep them winning.
Coach: Mike McCarron
Last season: 10-5-3, No. 10
Postseason: Class 4A East finalist
Outlook: Arundel has made consistent strides since All-Metro senior forward Spencer Hanks arrived as a freshman, going from five wins to 10 and a trip to the Class 4A East region title game. The upward trend should continue with the potential of a special season. The Wildcats have nine more starters back joining Hanks, and their team unity will take them far. Speed and tenacity dominate the midfield with Mike Magorka, Nico Espartero and Jack Hartford all proven threats playing off Hanks’ gifted skills. Defender Andrew Versis leads an experienced defense that can hold teams down.
Coach: Jon Seal
Last season: 14-6-2, No. 6
Postseason: MIAA A semifinalist
Outlook: The Greyhounds are going to keep opponents frustrated with their sturdy defense and hard-nosed play. It starts with junior goalie Grant Farley, a three-year starter who has great command of the penalty area. Center backs Eli Webb and Alden Booth are tough to get past and junior center midfielder Johnny Melancon, also a three-year starter, will play a big role controlling the middle and creating scoring chances. Seal likes the team’s mix of skill and athleticism.
Outlook: While other MIAA A teams might have bigger names, the Friars can’t be discounted with eight starters back on a senior-heavy roster. Center midfielder Tyler Harry will be leaned on to create and score, and outside back Kenny Clapp has game-changing skills at both ends. Forward Bryce Woodward, the team’s top returning scorer with seven goals and three assists, will be one of several threats the Friars will be banking on in a balanced attack.
Outlook: Last season, the Mustangs overwhelmed opponents with a powerhouse offense led by a senior trio that produced 42 goals. This year’s team has six starters back and a different approach with the team looking to manufacture goals and grind out wins. Senior center midfielder Ethan Dolezal is skilled, poised and experienced with center back Nick Dunstan-Maiese setting a physical tone in front of championship-winning goalie Zach Hetrick. Tully thinks others are eager and capable of taking on bigger roles to maintain the program’s lofty standards.
10. Wilde Lake
Coach: Trevor Shea
Last season: 10-3-2, not ranked
Postseason: Class 2A South quarterfinalist
Outlook: The Wildecats enter the season feeling good about themselves and rightly so. They return nine starters from a team that opened 9-0-2 last year and handed state runner-up River Hill its only blemish in the regular season, a 2-2 tie. There’s plenty of scoring options, and the game plan revolves around a gifted midfield featuring Ethan Shulgold, Liam Nesbitt and Kyle Eylanbekov. Goalie Gabe Viteri provides big saves and a steadying influence in the back.
Coach: Sean Tettemer
Last season: 16-3, No. 5
Postseason: Class 4A semifinalist
Outlook: The Bruins will think defense first, allowing their aggressive approach to set the tone through the midfield with a balanced offense. Another fine senior class leads the way with midfielder Tyler Madairy, defenders Reilly Joyce and Aaron Lawrence and midfielder/forward Kyle Wagonner all excelling in their roles and bringing fierce competitiveness and leadership. Underclassmen will have to find their way for the Bruins to make another strong playoff push.
12. Eastern Tech
Coach: Peter Glaudemans
Last season: 13-2-1, No. 8
Postseason: Class 2A North semifinalist
Outlook: The Mavericks were able to claim a second straight Baltimore County championship last season but missed out on a second straight state crown when county rival Hereford upset them in region play. It provides added motivation for one of the area’s most disciplined teams and there’s plenty of returning talent. Center midfielder Dillon Nesteruk and center back Ben Kropp are highly skilled, experienced seniors that set a strong tone with midfielder/forward Matt Davis and forward Daniel Folson other key pieces.
13. Mount Hebron
Coach: Mike Linsenmeyer
Last season: 11-3-1, not ranked
Postseason: Class 3A East quarterfinalist
Outlook: A quick glance down the Vikings roster shows they have quality players in each area, which should make for another highly productive season coming off last year’s disappointing early playoff exit. The midfield is deep and versatile with Jimmy Linsenmeyer and Daniel Tobar the catalysts; goalie Justin Carguilo is sturdy with help coming from Nandu Saravanan; and forward Jason Taylor is a consistent threat up top. Expect the Vikings to improve and be primed for a formidable playoff run.
Coach: Randy Dase
Last season: 12-2-2, No. 9
Postseason: Class 3A North finalist
Outlook: Can this be the season the Generals overcome some familiar big-game roadblocks? Goalie Caeden Fong has complete command of the penalty area and he has an experienced, skilled and smart cast working in front of him. Play runs through gifted midfielder David Hutch, with forward Nick Lewis a big and dangerous target up front and defender Sean Mathias bringing finesse in the back. All four players are three-year starters. Towson has lost to Eastern Tech in the past two Baltimore County title games and C. Milton Wright in the past three North region title games.
Coach: Adam Mizell
Last season: 13-5, No. 11
Postseason: Class 2A semifinalist
Outlook: The pieces are in place for the Bulls to build on last year’s state tournament appearance, their first since 2011. Eight starters return with most in the important areas of the field. Center midfielders Logan Kaufmann and Will Frasier are tough to keep up with going end-to-end. Forward Niko Hillary, the team’s leading goal scorer the past three years, is a pure finisher with a heavy left foot. Defender Owen Sabia’s runs out wide create more scoring chances and center back Billy Hartlove is a physical presence who covers plenty of ground in back.
Other teams considered: Bel Air (11-5-1, not ranked); Manchester Valley (11-3, not ranked); Oakland Mills (10-5, not ranked); Perry Hall (6-10-1, not ranked); Severna Park (9-5-1, not ranked); Concordia (15-5-1, No. 14)