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North Hagerstown tries to stay on title path

September 01, 2009|By ANDREW MASON

Last season couldn't have gone much better for the North Hagerstown girls soccer team.

The Hubs won their fifth straight Washington County Tournament title and captured their first Maryland 2A West region championship in program history, all while then-senior Maria Borland became North's all-time leading scorer.

While Borland is gone, the Hubs are back for more.

"I think we have a team that can make another run for it," said Rick Aleshire, who's beginning his 11th season as North's coach. "We might have to work a little harder for it, but we have a chance."

The Hubs have six returning starters, including senior goalkeeper Lindsay Irving and senior forward Katie Ritter, who were both all-county first-team selections last fall. Senior midfielder Jackie Keller was a second-team selection last year.

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"We've got to work on our defense, that's the main thing. We lost a lot," Aleshire said. "But we're going to have a little more speed up front than what we had last year."

After defeating Century 1-0 to win the region title last year, North fell 1-0 to Eastern Tech in the state semifinals, finishing 14-3-1 for the season.

"The girls keep saying they want to go back and finish what they didn't get done last year. But it's tough, 2A is tough. Everyone is good," Aleshire said. "I just keep telling them, 'Listen, you have to work hard. If you work hard, good things will happen.' When you have girls that want to work hard, it makes it a lot of fun."

Also this season, North and South Hagerstown are no longer in the MVAL Piedmont Conference. Both have moved back to the MVAL Antietam, which is now comprised entirely of Washington County teams.

Boonsboro



The Warriors have seven starters back from last year, including four all-county second-team selections -- senior midfielder Kayla Walsh, senior defenders Alyssa Monniger and Anna Olszewski and sophomore forward Amber Smith.

"With all the varsity experience, we want to make a run at the county tournament, a run at the MVAL and a run in the playoffs," said coach Kyle Lingg, whose team went 8-7 last year. "We think we can compete for those three things."

Clear Spring



First-year coach Brian Albert has big shoes to fill with the Blazers, who went 10-6-1 last year under Jeff Semler, setting a single-season program record for wins. He also won't be able to rely on Sarah Dice, who scored a county-high 24 goals last year as a senior.

But younger sister Jessica Dice, a junior, is back to run the midfield. She was on the all-county second team last fall and is one of six returning starters. Sophomore Miranda Kearney is the team's top returning scorer, despite having missed some action last season with an injury. She had five goals and four assists.

Hancock



Coach Karen Sornson has eight starters back from last season's team that went 2-11-1 as a first-year varsity program.

One of the Panthers' highlights was a 2-1 victory over Fort Hill in the first round of the Class 1A West region playoffs. They suffered five one-goal losses.

Junior forward Michaela Castle tied for the team lead in goals last year with four.

St. James



The Saints have five returning starters back from last year's team that won the four-team Maryland Independent Schools state tourney and finished 5-7-6. Gone, however, is Caroline Salisbury, who starred on defense while also scoring a team-high 12 goals as a senior last fall.

All three of the Saints' 2008 all-county honorable mentions are back -- senior keeper Rachel Herrera, senior defender Courtney Peterson and sophomore midfielder Alyssa Glass. Coach Ted Camp said freshman forward Mary Kate Afzali "could be something really special."

St. Maria Goretti



Coach Dan Durski has 10 returning starters back from last year's team that went 6-11-2, including senior defender Cassie Rzomp, an all-county second-team selection.

Sophomore forward Theresa Barton, one of five freshmen who started for the Gaels last season, scored a team-high eight goals last fall.

Smithsburg



First-year Leopards coach David Jones might have the youngest team in the county. Six of his 14 varsity players are freshmen, and another two are sophomores.

The Leopards do have three senior standouts in forward Ashley Ferguson, midfielder Monica Hovermale and keeper Emily Hargreaves. Ferguson was the team's leading scorer last year with nine goals and eight assists.

Smithsburg went 10-6-1 last season, falling 1-0 to Poolesville in the 1A West region final.

South Hagerstown



While the Rebels suffered through a 2-11 season last year, they return 10 starters, including midfielder Lauren Marriner, a 2008 all-county first-team selection.

Marriner and defender Kaitlyn Bosco are two of the Rebels' five seniors and the team's co-captains for the second straight year. Coach Scott Buhrman only had two seniors last fall.

Williamsport



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