McDonogh's #23, Anna Bialczak, left, Spalding's #10, Sarah Lloyd, center, and Spalding's #6, Lauren Kelly, right, fight for the ball.
McDonogh's #23, Anna Bialczak, left, Spalding's #10, Sarah Lloyd, center, and Spalding's #6, Lauren Kelly, right, fight for the ball. (Baltimore Sun photo by Amy Davis)

Top 15 poll

1. McDonogh

Coach: Harry Canellakis

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Last season: 15-0-2, ranked No. 1

Postseason: IAAM A Conference champion

Outlook: The two-time defending IAAM A champions are ranked No. 1 in the country by Top Drawer Soccer and with good reason, featuring a lineup loaded with game-changing talent. All-Metro standouts Lily McCarthy and Baylee DeSmit produced a combined 40 goals and 29 assists last season with Kalli Wethern, Aria Bilal and Kelsey Smith also proven goal scorers. The roster is stacked with Division I talent, including nine returning starters and 13 juniors. Alayna Lynchard is the glue in back.

2. River Hill

Coach: Brian Song

Last season: 17-1, No. 2

Postseason: Class 2A champion

Outlook: Despite a heavy graduation hit going into last season, the Hawks continued doing what they do: Play confident and together, get the most out of their abilities and win state crowns. They made it three straight titles (13 overall), and with seven starters back, more hardware is likely on its way. All-Metro second-team goalie Caroline Duffy is a major luxury in back and Sophia Elguera will be the team’s new midfield catalyst after shining on defense last year.

3. Archbishop Spalding

Coach: Ashly Kennedy

Last season: 14-1-2, No. 4

Postseason: IAAM A finalist

Outlook: The Cavaliers graduated 14 seniors with skill and leadership, but returning talent and promising newcomers should come through for another productive season. Defense will be the team’s strength at the start while the offense finds successful ways to attack. Defensive midfielder Courtney Corcoran and center back Jessica Wallace will provide poised play and leadership. Sophomore forward Ashley Tutas, coming off a strong club season, is ready to emerge as the Cavaliers’ go-to player up top.

4. South River

Coach: John Sis

Last season: 13-2-2, No. 11

Postseason: Class 4A East semifinalist

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Outlook: Penalty kicks rained on the Seahawks’ 2018 parade as they went undefeated in Anne Arundel County play before shootout losses to Severna Park in the county championship game and Broadneck in the region playoffs. With 10 starters back and 23 in all with varsity experience, they return a talented and hungry group. All-Metro midfielder Sophia Michalski-Cooper is the end-to-end catalyst with Elizabeth Gleeson, Lydia Boyer and Madeline Lenkart all proven scorers. A cohesive defense returns led by center back Morgan Carter.

Perry Hall's Kara Dietrich, left, and Hereford's Lexi Saunders battle for a ball in the Gators' 2-1 victory.
Perry Hall's Kara Dietrich, left, and Hereford's Lexi Saunders battle for a ball in the Gators' 2-1 victory. (photo by Steve Ruark)

5. Hereford

Coach: Brad Duvall

Last season: 14-3, No. 10

Postseason: Class 2A semifinalist

Outlook: The Bulls will lean on an explosive offense led by All-Metro regular Payton Patrick to remain contenders in Baltimore County and beyond. Offseason injuries took a toll with three starting defenders out, leaving standout center back Laura Schmidt in charge of keeping things tidy in back while others get acclimated to bigger roles. Rose Luba and Shannon Francis are both fast and efficient in front of the goal to complement Patrick.

6. Broadneck

Coach: John Camm

Last season: 11-3-2,

Postseason: Class 4A East finalist

Outlook: Coming off a state championship, the Bruins got a lot of mileage out of an injury-riddled 2018 season and the experience gained should pay dividends. Seven starters return, with Lela Clark and Eva Mowery the catalysts on offense and Grace Gibbs a four-year mainstay in back. Forward Mara Buto returns after playing Academy ball last season and will bolster an already potent attack.

7. Wilde Lake

Coach: Megan Shea

Last season: 12-2-1, No. 8

Postseason: Class 2A South semifinalist

Outlook: Despite graduating quality players in each area of the field, the Wildecats still have an ideal mix of senior leadership and talented underclassmen to continue their winning ways. Comfort comes in the back line, the team’s strength at the start, led by four-year starters Angie Geralis and Nicole Wright. Sophomore midfielders Aicha Wilson and Leah Williams are highly skilled and poised to build on the experience they gained last year. Sophomore forward Gia Johnson will team with freshman Grace Dunbar up top to form a dynamic combination.

8. Sparrows Point

Coach: Lori Sexton

Last season: 16-0, No. 3

Postseason: Class 1A champion

Outlook: After an unprecedented sixth straight state title and second perfect season in four years, the Pointers have question marks. Replacing two-time All-Metro Player of the Year Julie Lynch is the biggest concern, but the Pointers have the talent and gumption to keep rolling. Goalie Jaddah Foos leads a seasoned back line, midfielder Jade Weir anchors the middle and forward Alayna Jerome is primed to score more big goals.

9. Perry Hall

Coach: Matt Smoot

Last season: 17-3, No. 5

Postseason: Class 4A champion

Outlook: A special senior class spearheaded the program’s first state title last fall, leaving a significant challenge for this year’s group. Five starters are among the 11 total returnees, with leadership coming from a strong back line led by All-Metro defender Aya Neal. The Gators graduated game-changers in Phoebe Canoles and Kara Dietrich, along with standout goalie Lauren Gwin, and the plan is to offset the losses with cohesive team play. Look for the Gators to improve on the go as they settle into the season.

10. Severna Park

Coach: Rick Stimpson

Last season: 17-2, No. 7

Postseason: Class 4A semifinalist

Outlook: Former boys assistant coach Stimpson takes over for Brian Morgan, who led the Falcons to the Anne Arundel County and 4A East region titles last season. Stimpson inherits a quality group that keeps the expectations high. Much of the team’s strength is through the middle. Goalie Katie Byrd posted 15 shutouts last season, center back Lena McLaughlin dominates in the air and is a fine distributor and center midfielder Toni Fiocco-Mizer brings a high motor and technical skills to create offense.

Severna Park teammates celebrate their win over South River during the Anne Arundel County championship girls soccer game at Chesapeake High School on Tuesday, Oct. 23.
Severna Park teammates celebrate their win over South River during the Anne Arundel County championship girls soccer game at Chesapeake High School on Tuesday, Oct. 23. (Brian Krista / Capital Gazette)

11. Reservoir

Coach: Phil Ranker

Last season: 8-4-2, not ranked

Postseason: Class 3A East quarterfinalist

Outlook: The Gators are primed to turn the corner and do so quickly, with team speed a major strength. Forward Kat Parris is a threat every time she gets the ball and an experienced midfield led by Mia Smiraglia should consistently get her opportunities. Seven starters return and a handful of others are ready to make the most of their increased minutes. Forward Karis Turner will provide a major offensive boost when she returns following shoulder surgery.

12. Notre Dame Prep

Coach: Val Teixeira

Last season: 10-3, No. 6

Postseason: IAAM A semifinalist

Outlook: In recent years, the Blazers’ path to success has started with their organized defense and fine play in goal. That might change this season as they have the goods to score more goals. With eight starters back, the team’s strength is on the attacking end with forward Christine Scott and midfielders Camile McGarvey, Haley Burns and Kailey Pelkey. Look for the Blazers to possess the ball more, connect passes and use their speed, skills and work rate to get to goal.

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13. Towson

Coach: Lauren Hanley

Last season: 10-5, No. 14

Postseason: Class 3A semifinalist

Outlook: Towson opened eyes with an impressive playoff run last season, claiming its first region title (North) since 2006. All signs point to the Generals continuing the upward trend. They return nine starters and 12 varsity players in all with the team’s close bond a key to continued success. Goalie Sofia Sorteberg and defender Anna Corona play big roles in back, Chiara Menegatti is the midfield glue and Aalivia Wainwright is a big threat up front.

14. Mercy

Coach: Doug Pryor

Last season: 14-5, No. 12

Postseason: IAAM A semifinalist

Outlook: The energy is high with the school’s new state-of-the-art stadium ready for play. The Magic have an equal mix of experienced talent and promising newcomers to be formidable. Replacing the program’s all-time leading scorer Ada Clare Tempert (88 goals, 44 assists in four years) is the biggest chore. Midfielders Adrianna Gunther and Palina Jordan, center back Claire Geier and goalie Alivia McDermott are the key parts with Payton Schenning topping the list of four freshmen expected to make an immediate impact.

15. Patterson Mill

Coach: Mike Parker

Last season: 12-5-1, No. 15

Postseason: Class 1A semifinalist

Outlook: Could this finally be the year Patterson Mill breaks through to claim to the program’s first state title? They’ve been close, with four straight appearances in the state semifinals, and it appears the breaks might go their way this season. The Huskies have experienced talent all over the field, with Evie Wysong and Anna Salerno the keys in back, Taylor Shultz and Allie Wysong anchoring the midfield and Izzy Toni a threat up top. In addition, forward Riley Brown and defender Kamrin Gravitte return after suffering ACL injuries last year.

Other teams considered: Bel Air (11-4-2, not ranked); Dulaney (9-8, not ranked); Fallston (10-6, not ranked); Harford Tech (6-3-5, not ranked); Roland Park (14-1-1, No. 13)

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