Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

Poolesville, QO field hockey back on title track

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Poolesville, thanks in part to high-scoring senior Rachel Stream, has plans of heading back to the state tournament later this fall.
The Poolesville and Quince Orchard field hockey teams took their usual trips to the state tournament last fall with the Cougars walking away with a championship, besting two-time defending Class 4A champion South River, 1-0, in double overtime.

With the departure of numerous starters from that state title squad, including the Gazette Player of the Year, Emily Ellenberger, plus the possible loss of All-Gazette first-team selection, Natalie Ellenberger (5 goals, 11 assists), for the entire season, a repeat performance could be tough. Natalie Ellenberger injured her knee for the second time in a year during the spring lacrosse season and likely won’t be available for the field hockey season.

But veteran Cougars coach Jenna Ries believes her squad has more than enough talent to remain competitive, especially with the leadership brought by returning starters Monica Baick (midfield), Alissa Peterson (center forward) and Alicia Vincenty (midfield). Peterson (16 goals in 2006) scored the game-winning goal against South River.

‘‘The kids are in incredible shape and they’re very skilled, but they’re not use to carrying a team,” Ries said. ‘‘If they can learn to do that, we’ll be very good.”

Poolesville was also affected by last spring’s graduation ceremonies, watching eight seniors move on but Falcons coach Regina Grubb does return loads of explosive experience in the form of Rachel Stream (19 goals), Holly Defnet, Michelle Abbaticchio (4 goals, 2 assists), Allie Gost, Jen Bateman, Nora Torrey and Nellie Stovicek. Stream, a first-team All-Gazette selection in 2006, paced Poolesville’s offense, which averaged almost five goals a game last year, with eight assists to go along with her 19 goals.

The anchor of the defense — goalkeepers Megan Foy and Courtney Bettinger — also return. They combined for 10 shutouts in 2006.

‘‘I think as a whole, the girls are really working hard,” Grubb said. ‘‘We’re hoping for big things but the ones coming up have big shoes to fill.”

Wootton (9-4) had its stellar regular season ruined by Springbrook, which dumped the Patriots out of the 4A South Region playoffs in the quarterfinals, 1-0, a year ago. Seniors Liza Kaplan (forward), Joanna Sonley (midfield), Lauren Allen (midfield), Jackie Noble (defender) and Becca Hertz (defender) hope to make this year’s playoff run much longer.

Kaplan’s return is especially pivotal, having led the squad in scoring the past two years, including posting 11 goals and four assists in 2006.

‘‘I expect those returning seniors to lead us and we’ve got a strong nucleus of juniors this year from last year’s successful JV team who are going to play a lot,” Wootton coach Mike Parrish said. ‘‘I think defensively, we’re pretty strong.”

Damascus coach Jodi Hathaway believes the same about her squad, which welcomes back senior goalkeeper Kelsey Kunkle and junior defenders Gabby Wooton and Andrea Mobley and adds junior defender Corinn Shute. Senior forward Hannah Henningsgaard returns to spearhead the team’s offense.

‘‘We will be concentrating on changing our style of play with more finesse and to be more unpredictable,” said Hathaway, whose squad won nine matches last year and will play at the Class 3A level this fall.

Like Quince Orchard, Magruder lost a strong nucleus of seniors, including All-Gazette first-team selection Kristie Blumer (18 goals, 8 assists). The Colonels cupboard is not bare, however, with 10 seniors ready to step in and continue the winning tradition Magruder coach Kathleen Mulholland has established, including a 12-4 season a year ago.

‘‘We lost a dynamic group,” Mulholland said. ‘‘They have some big shoes to fill but I think they can do it. I think we’ll be competitive.”

Those filling the graduation voids will be seniors Kerri Wallis, Christina Graham-Yooll, Devin Crone and Taryn Queen, junior Elena Diestle and sophomore goalkeeper Zia Frazier.

While those squads look to build on last year’s success, second-year Clarksburg hopes to create some momentum for itself after struggling to a 1-14 mark in its inaugural varsity season.

‘‘We’ll definitely be more competitive,” longtime county coach Sissy Natoli said. ‘‘I don’t know if we’ll get very many `Ws’ but the kids understand hockey concepts and they have more of a game sense. They’re really improved.”

The Coyotes now have 19 players and they’re led by captains Samantha Amberg, Jenna Smith, Delaney Tenca and Alyssa Roff, the team’s senior goalkeeper.

Watkins Mill also hopes to turn the corner under a new coach, Ellen Polster, this year after suffering through a 3-10 campaign in 2006. Suzanna Henry, Debbie Namugayi, Sandi Richardson, Nora Tierney and Katherine Drury return from that squad.

‘‘I look forward to an exciting and fun season,” Polster said. ‘‘We have a great group of players with a lot of heart and team spirit and I know we will be successful this year.”

Gaithersburg has a new coach in Don Dillingham, who had coached the junior-varsity squad. He takes over for Michelle Lewis, whose squad compiled a 3-8-1 mark, including a 6-1 loss to Thomas Johnson (7-7 in 2006) in the regional playoffs.

Northwest has won a combined 19 games the past two seasons, but Jaguars coach Randy Hostetter doesn’t feel his squad is looked on as one of the county’s elite teams. With a stronger schedule this season, including state champion Quince Orchard, regional champions Whitman and Poolesville and regional finalist Blake, Hostetter hopes to change that perception.

‘‘We have high hopes for the season,” he said. ‘‘We’re trying some new teams we haven’t faced in a while. We’re looking to pretty much solidify our presence as a legitimate team in the county.”

Leading the Jaguars to that end will be senior forward Nikki Schellhardt, who produced 19 of the team’s 39 goals last year with four assists. She’s joined by varsity veterans Emily Burke and Erin Borg and top newcomers Kieri Borg and Grace Stewart.

Good Counsel had its bid for a third straight Washington Catholic Athletic Conference field hockey title last season denied by a penalty corner goal after the second-half clock struck zero.

Looking to leave no doubt in its preparation for another WCAC championship run, Good Counsel co-coaches Kelly Stodter and Kristin Ramsey have compiled an ambitious schedule that includes county public-school heavyweights Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Quince Orchard, along with private-school powers St. Stephen’s⁄St. Agnes (Va.) and St. Paul’s.

‘‘We’re looking for trouble,” joked Stodter, whose team went 8-0 during regular-season league play in 2006. ‘‘We want to win the championship again. To do that, we feel like we have to be challenged every single game.”

The Falcons (14-2-1 in 2006) graduated one of the county’s best players in Ashley Stodter but return a slew of talent, including captains Julianne Grothe (14 goals, 6 assists in 2006), Mary Swarthout (4 goals, 5 assists), Lauren Wilson (6 goals, 2 assists) and Mary Kuzma.

FAST FACTS

Clarksburg Coyotes

Head coach: Sissy Natoli, 2nd year (25th overall, 225-107-15 career record)

Last year’s record: 1-14

Last state title: None

Players to watch: Samantha Amberg (Jr., M), Jenna Smith (Jr., F), Alyssa Roff (Sr., GK), Delaney Tenca (Jr., D)

Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets

Head coach: Jodi Hathaway, 10th year

Last year’s record: 9-5

Last state title: None

Players to watch: Hannah Henningsgaard (Sr., F), Gabby Wooton (Jr., D), Andrea Mobley (Jr., D⁄M), Kelsey Kunkle (Sr., GK)

Good Counsel Falcons

Co-head coaches: Kelly Stodter and Kristin Ramsey, 3rd year (33-16-2 record)

Last year’s record: 14-2-1, 8-0 in the WCAC

League affiliation: Washington Catholic Athletic Conference

Last league title: 2005

Players to watch: Julianne Grothe (Jr., M⁄F), Mary Kuzma (Sr., F), Mary Swarthout (Sr., M⁄F), Lauren Wilson (Sr., F):

Magruder Colonels

Head coach: Kathleen Mulholland, 17th year (151-88-11 record)

Last year's record: 12-4

Last state title: 1996 (3rd)

Players to watch: Kerri Wallis (Sr., F), Christina Graham-Yooll (Sr., F), Devin Crone (Sr., D)

Northwest Jaguars

Head coach: Randy Hostetter, 5th year

Last year’s record: 9-4

Last state title: None

Players to watch: Nikki Schellhardt (Sr., F), Emily Burke (Sr., L), Erin Borg (Sr., F)

Poolesville Falcons

Head coach: Regina Grubb, 8th year (72-22-3 record)

Last year's record: 11-3

Last state title: 2002 (1st)

Players to watch: Rachel Stream (Sr., F⁄M⁄D), Michelle Abbaticchio (Sr., F⁄M⁄D), Holly Defnet (Sr., M⁄D), Megan Foy (Jr., GK), Courtney Bettinger (Sr., GK)

Quince Orchard Cougars

Head coach: Jenna Ries, 10th year (122-25-6 record)

Last year's record: 16-2

Last state title: 2006 (2nd)

Players to watch: Monica Baick (Sr., M), Alissa Peterson (Jr., F), Alicia Vincenty (Sr., M)

Watkins Mill Wolverines

Head coach: Ellen Polster, 1st year

Last year’s record: 3-10

Last state title: None

Players to watch: Suzanna Henry (Sr.), Debbie Namugayi (Sr.), Sandi Richardson (Sr.), Nora Tierney (Sr.)

Wootton Patriots

Head coach: Mike Parrish, 3rd year (16-10 record)

Last year's record: 9-4

Last state title: None

Players to watch: Liza Kaplan (Sr., F), Joanna Sonley (Sr., M), Lauren Allen (Sr., M), Jackie Noble (Sr., D)