Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

Local field hockey teams prepare for first faceoff

E-mail this article \ Print this article

Gazette file photo
Whitman’s Gabe McKenzie (left) hopes to get the defending 4A South Region champs back to the state semifinals this season.
It’s been three long years since the Bethesda-Chevy Chase field hockey team walked away with a state championship — it defeated Severna Park, 2-1, in double overtime to win the 2004 3A state crown — but that modest drought could come to an end this season for the Barons, who have won 13 state titles starting in 1988.

For starters, B-CC has one of the state’s most successful coaches in Amy Wood (207-25-13 career record), who returns a veteran team that’s led by senior midfielder April Cahill, a first-team All-Gazette selection with six goals and four assists last year.

Cahill, a two-sport star, is joined by fellow starters Cathy Mirsky, Annie Cohen, Samantha Locke and Kelsey Osterman and varsity veterans Carla Kroner and Emma Hussain, the team’s senior goalkeeper.

‘‘They are jelling really well,” Wood said. ‘‘I think we have some really solid players and really good players. We don’t have that one person everybody says, `Oh, my God. Here she comes.’ I think we’re going to be solid all the way through.”

Also helping B-CC’s cause is the move of Severna Park, the owner of a state-best 16 state crowns, to the 4A classification while B-CC stays in the 3A, although Wood said she would much rather that not have occurred.

The Barons will get another chance at those mighty Falcons at the Sally E. Nyborg Field Hockey Invitational early next month. They’ll also square off with Good Counsel (14-2-1), which has won two of the past three Washington Catholic Athletic Conference titles.

Following closely behind the Barons are Whitman and Wootton, who are coming off solid 2006 campaigns, combining for 18 wins. Whitman, in fact, shook off a sluggish regular season to capture the 4A South Region crown before falling to eventual state champion Quince Orchard in the 4A state semifinals.

With a veteran core returning, including starters Helena Nannes, Carrie Kincaid, Melissa O’Neill, Rachel Segal and Gabe McKenzie, Whitman probably won’t sneak up on anybody this fall.

‘‘We have a little rebuilding on defense but we have girls who are ready to walk right in there from the junior class,” said 28-year Whitman coach Mary Pat Veihmeyer.

The Vikings also welcome back Maya Herm and Molly Finley, who both saw plenty of playing time a year ago, and welcome in goalkeeper Hillary Wall, last year’s junior-varsity starter.

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.

‘‘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.”

Defense could be Churchill’s strong suit as well this season with junior defender Ellen Suttle and junior sweeper Jenna Hawk back in the starting lineup and the arrival of sophomore defender Joanna Goldman from the junior-varsity squad. They’re joined by junior midfielder Shannon Disbrow, another returning starter from a squad that compiled a 9-6 record last fall.

‘‘The girls have really bonded in the off-season and are playing well together,” Bulldogs coach Monica Malanoski said. ‘‘They are communicating well and their hits are as hard as ever. They have greatly improved their passing game.”

Like Quince Orchard, Magruder finds itself in a quick rebuilding mode, losing 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 stepping into the starting lineup will be seniors Kerri Wallis, Christina Graham-Yooll, Devin Crone and Taryn Queen, junior Elena Diestle and sophomore goalkeeper Zia Frazier.

Erika Benke begins the second year of her reclamation project of the once-proud Walter Johnson program, which is coming off a respectable 5-7 record in 2006. Continuing that process will be difficult, however, with the graduation of Ana Palermo (7 goals) and Colleen Hopkins (119 saves) although junior center midfielder Emily Kleinburd and junior midfielder⁄forward Abby Bieber are back.

Rachel Skay, a freshman forward⁄midfielder, is the team’s top newcomer. ‘‘It’s a young team [but] they will do well,” Benke said. ‘‘They work hard and communicate well.”

Former Northwood coach Amanda Gordon takes the reins at Rockville for the departed Melissa Fischer, who stepped down after eight years to seek her National Board Certification. The Rams graduated nine seniors from last year’s 5-7-1 team.

On the private-school side, 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 B-CC and Quince Orchard, along with private-school powers St. Stephen’s⁄St. Agnes 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.

Holy Cross was the team that denied Good Counsel a third straight WCAC crown and the Tartans looked poised to defend their title with the return of numerous starters, including Zoe Anthony, who scored the game-winning goal in the WCAC championship match. She’s joined by returnees Christian Benedetti, Lauren Janniello and Laine Parr.

‘‘They’re definitely stronger than last year,” said Tartans coach Candy Thurman of her squad. ‘‘They’re a little more polished. I know Good Counsel has probably been thinking about us [since] the day after the [championship game]. We’re the same way. It’s a good rivalry. They want it just as bad as we do.”

The Bullis starting lineup remains relatively intact as well, including captains Annie Hanler and Catharine Vincent. Chelsea Gleason played on the varsity as a freshman last year.

‘‘I think we’ll be pretty good,” said Bulldogs coach Julie Nelson said. ‘‘We have a lot more girls coming out this year. We have more depth this year. I’m excited about that. Our starting 11 is stronger than last year.”

Meredith Hahn’s first season as the Stone Ridge field hockey coach started with a bang, as the Gators collected 10 overall wins and seven in the rugged Independent School League that includes area powerhouses St. Stephen’s⁄St. Agnes and National Cathedral.

Eight players graduated from that squad, including defensive stalwarts Mary Beckler ((63 saves) and Kaitlin Keena (4 goals, 2 assists), but Stone Ridge does return much of last year’s offense in Brooke Blue (4 goals, 4 assists), Liza Beckler and Lauren Stentz, along with midfielders Kim Goh and Meredith Bates.

‘‘I think our offense will be a strength because they’re used to working together and they actually work very well together,” Hahn said. ‘‘We’re a young team. I think as the season progresses, we’ll get better.”

FAST FACTS

B-CC Barons

Head coach: Amy Wood, 15th year (207-25-13 record)

Last year’s record: 15-4

Last state title: 2004 (13th)

Players to watch: April Cahill (Sr., M), Cathy Mirsky (Jr., M), Annie Cohen (Jr., F), Samantha Locke (Sr., F)

Bullis Bulldogs

Head coach: Julie Nelson, 2nd year (4th year overall, 24-22-1 career record)

Last year’s record: 5-9

League affiliation: Independent School League

Last league title: N⁄A

Players to watch: Annie Hanler (Sr., M), Chelsea Gleason (Soph., M), Catharine Vincent (Sr., D)

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):

Holy Cross Tartans

Head coach: Candy Thurman, 3rd year

Last year’s record: 12-5, 6-2 in the WCAC

League affiliation: Washington Catholic Athletic Conference

Last league title: 2006

Players to watch: Christina Benedetti (Sr., F), Zoe Anthony (Sr., M), Lauren Janniello (Sr., M), Laine Parr (Sr., M)

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)

Walter Johnson Wildcats

Head coach: Erika Benke, 2nd year

Last year’s record: 5-7

Last state title: 1989 (1st)

Players to watch: Emily Kleinburd (Jr., M), Abby Bieber (Jr., M⁄F), Rachel Skay (Fr., F⁄M)

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)