Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

County girls soccer has long list of contenders

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Hillary Goldman is one of 11 returning players for B-CC, which has the Barons eyeing their second Class 3A state title in the last four years.
One last-minute goal separated the Quince Orchard girls soccer team last year from its first state title since 2002 and second overall. The memory of Leonardtown forward Emily Gehrig’s shot bending into the net with two minutes remaining in regulation of the Class 4A championship game has haunted the Cougars since last November. And they’re on a mission in 2007 to get back to the state tournament, and reverse that heart-wrenching result.

But, there are a lot of teams with that same state championship goal in mind. And for many of those teams, including Churchill, Walter Johnson, Wootton and Bethesda-Chevy Chase, it’s a legitimate aspiration.

Though Quince Orchard did bid farewell to several irreplaceable players, including stalwart midfielder Emilia Odenkirchen (10 assists in 2006) and defender Chelsea Prentice, a second consecutive Class 4A West Region title and trip to the state tournament is certainly in the realm of possibility.

Quince Orchard returns 13 players and eight starters, including last year’s two leading scorers, senior forward Ariel Nehemiah (8 goals, 7 assists) and sophomore forward Ele Margelos (7 goals, 5 assists), senior midfielder⁄forward Christie Shell (6 goals), junior goalkeeper Amanda Whitney and sophomore Kayla Clarke.

The Cougars struggled to capitalize on scoring chances early last year, but rectified that problem in the latter half of the season. And they hope that trend continues in 2007.

With an incredibly speedy and balanced offense, Quince Orchard is tough to defend against —it has so many scoring options it’s impossible to target just one player — and is a strong contender for the county’s 4A West Division, the 4A West Region and the 4A state titles.

‘‘States is always our goal,” Shell said. ‘‘But I think losing last year in the state final will be an even stronger impetus for us to win to prove that we deserve to be there and that we shouldn’t be underestimated.”

Churchill (11-4-0) took the county by surprise last year. And though it graduated leading scorer and keystone of its offense, Carissa Youker (12 goals, 13 assists), she was one of only three seniors to graduate.

Despite that, Churchill will have a different dynamic this year. Though there are a slew of talented players returning to six-year coach Haroot Hakopian’s squad. In fact, there was so much talent present at this year’s tryouts, he was forced to cut some of last year’s varsity players.

The Bulldogs will rely on sophomore midfielder Pam Vranis (6 goals⁄4 assists) and senior Chelsea Pizano, who scored six goals in the last four games of 2006, for some offensive production.

Senior defender Maddy Gorin and senior goalkeeper Jess Fainberg will anchor the team’s defense.

‘‘Last year no one expected us to go 11-4,” Hakopian said. ‘‘This year is the opposite, because we only graduated three players so everyone thinks the whole team is coming back. But that’s not the case. As always though, the expectations are there. But it won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination.”

Given this year’s talent, perennial power Bethesda-Chevy Chase (16-2-0) should expect nothing less than its second consecutive Class 3A West Region title and a shot at its first state title since 2004, second overall.

With 11 returning players, including five four-year varsity players, this year’s squad is likely the deepest in years for B-CC. The Barons have a number of scoring options up top in senior midfielder⁄forward Sonia Rada, junior midfielders Zita DePetris and Hillary Goldman, as well as two-year leading scorer, junior forward Hannah Cooper (18 goals in 2006).

Though the Barons’ defense will miss four-year goalie Kayleigh Herrick-Reynolds, it will certainly still be a formidable obstacle, led by seniors Katie and Laney Siegner and Terryn Marette.

Wootton (13-4-0) consistently ranks among the top teams in the county but graduation casualties may make it hard for the Patriots to compete for their first Class 4A West Region title and state tournament appearance since 2000.

Nevertheless Wootton can never be taken lightly. And, though it lost several of its go-to scorers, returns senior forward Melissa Cohen, who tallied 11 goals and four assists last year, and sophomore Allison Yeager (5 goals, 4 assists) to its formidable front line.

The Patriots’ backfield took a huge hit with the loss of Kira Maker, who boasted a mere 0.31-goals-against average last year and is now playing at Stanford. But Wootton will rely on strong performances from senior defenders Katie Duncan and Schuyler Cosby to keep them competitive in their push for a 4A East Division title.

Though Einstein (8-4-1) lost several key players, including four-year goalkeeper Cory Hawkins, it does return a lot of talent in junior midfielder Andie Solomon, who scored five goals last year, sophomore Cami Kamara-Lapp and senior defenders Kate Boyd and Lydia Scott. And freshman Jordan Solomon is a welcome addition.

Finishing was Einstein’s Achilles heel last year, but that aspect seems to be improving each day in the preseason. And, if the Titans can take advantage of their scoring chances, they could challenge for a top spot in the county’s 3A⁄2A⁄1A East Division.

Walter Johnson (6-7-1) has been plagued by injuries the last two seasons. But the Wildcats can never be counted against, especially with junior forward Caroline Miller in the mix. The team’s leading scorer the last two years knocked in 25 goals last season, and will likely do similar damage this year.

She and fellow scoring threats, junior midfielder Charlene Cartoux, sophomore Julianna Tate and senior midfielder Michelle Bersebol, are supported by a solid defense, anchored by senior sweeper Molly Reiss.

Richard Montgomery (3-7-2) has taken hit after hit to its armor the last two years. The Rockets will rely heavily on seniors Sara Kugler (9 goals), Shayna Stern and Jessie Weaver to produce enough offense to start giving more hits than they’ve been taking.

Rockville (6-6) graduated eight seniors from last year’s team, but returns 12 as it hopes to compete for a 3A⁄2A⁄1A West Division title. The Rams will rely on strong performances from juniors Michelle Carter and Jen Civick, as well as senior Emily Owen.

The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference is likely the toughest in the Washington Area, which will make this season a struggle for Holy Cross, reeling from the loss of nine seniors from last year’s squad.

But the Tartans do have a lot of experience to lean on up front, with seniors Grace Din, Caitlin Cadigan and sophomore Colleen Din. And they’ll play a large role in Holy Cross’ 2007 campaign.

With its regular-season Independent School League banner, Holton-Arms (12-2-0) moved into the ISL’s upper division this season. And, the Panthers, who outscored their opponents, 53-12, in 2006, are likely to be just as competitive there. They’ll look to continued offensive dominance, led by senior Catherine Swanson (22 goals, 9 assists) and Casey Ellerman (18 goals, 12 assists).

Juniors Jen Anders, Catie Dubensky and seniors Hannah Davis and Alanne Wheeler, will lead St. Andrew’s (7-9-0) on its mission for an ISL lower division title this season.

This season is a new season, a chance for team’s to start fresh, but for some teams, like Quince Orchard, there’s unfinished business from 2006.

‘‘Every year we try to win our division, our goal is to win the region and go to states, that’s the same goal every year,” Quince Orchard nine-year coach Peg Keiller said. ‘‘This year we’re thinking more about it though because of that huge disappointment last year.”

Fast Facts

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Barons

Head coach: Rob Kurtz, 7th year

Last year’s record: 16-2-0

Last state title: 2004 (2nd)

Players to watch: Hannah Cooper (Jr., F), Sonia Rada (Sr., M), Zita DePetris (Jr., M)

Churchill Bulldogs

Head coach: Haroot Hakopian, 6th year

Last year’s record: 11-4-0

Last state title: None

Players to watch: Pam Vranis (Soph. F), Chelsea Pizano (Sr., F), Jess Feimberg (Sr., GK)

Good Counsel Falcons

Head coach: Jim Bruno, 20th year

Last year’s record: 16-6-2

Last conference title: 2001 (5th)

Players to watch: Sarah Chapman (Sr., M), Ariana Cook (Sr., M), Lauren Kelly (Sr., M)

Holy Cross Tartans

Head coach: Michelle Rodriguez-Smith, 2nd year

Last year’s record: N⁄A

Last conference title: None

Players to watch: Caitlin Cadigan (Sr., M), Grace Din (Sr., M), Colleen Din (Soph., M)

Quince Orchard Cougars

Head coach: Peg Keiller, 9th year

Last year’s record: 15-4-0

Last state title: 2002 (1st)

Players to watch: Christie Shell (Sr., M⁄F), Ariel Nehemiah (Sr., F), Ele Margelos (Soph., F)

Richard Montgomery Rockets

Head coach: Tony Pykosh, 2nd year

Last year’s record: 3-7-2

Last state title: None

Player to watch: Sara Kugler (Sr., F)

Rockville Rams

Head coach: Mike Hayes, 3rd year

Last year’s record: 6-6

Last state title: None

Player to watch: Michelle Carter (Jr., F)

Walter Johnson Wildcats

Head coach: Tom Wheeler, 10th year

Last year’s record: 6-7-1

Last state title: None

Players to watch: Caroline Miller (Jr., F), Charlene Cartoux (Jr., M)

Wootton Patriots

Head coach: Chris Thompson, 4th year

Last year’s record: 13-4-0

Last state title: 1998 (1st)

Players to watch: Katie Duncan (Sr., D), Melissa Cohen (Sr., F)