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Washington County Girls Soccer: Wildcats digging deep to unearth some grand prizes

September 04, 2013|By ANDREW MASON | andrewm@herald-mail.com
  • Washington County Preps Previews
Washington County Preps Previews

The Williamsport girls soccer team still has its eyes on the prizes — the Washington County, MVAL Antietam and Maryland Class 2A West titles.

“For us, those are the three,” Williamsport coach Tim Salvagno said.

After going 1-for-3 in its title pursuit last season, the Wildcats are ready to try again for the sweep this fall.

They return seven starters — including four all-county selections — from last year’s team that won the MVAL Antietam Conference regular-season title and finished second in both the county and region tournaments.

While Williamsport had the best overall record in the county at 13-3-1 last season, they were upset 1-0 by Boonsboro in the county final. The Wildcats haven’t won the county tournament since 1999.

“As nice as last season was, there’s still a little bit of a sour taste in our mouth,” Salvagno said. “The county tournament — it’s important to us. Hopefully we can get back to the championship game and get a decent result.”

The big tourney, though, begins after the regular season ends. To get ready for the rigors of Class 2A West, the Wildcats have beefed up their schedule.

“We have five Frederick County and Carroll County teams on our schedule this season to try to get us better prepared for the playoffs,” Salvagno said. “We might not have the same kind of record as last year, but in the long run I think we’ll be better off.”

Williamsport’s all-county returnees include sophomore midfielder Kate Wade and junior defender Lizzy Willis, who both were first-teamers, and senior defender Erin Palmer and senior midfielder Regan Stout, who both were on the second team. However, Willis will sidelined for the beginning of the season as she recovers from an injury.

“We have some experience, girls who have been with me for four years, so they know what to expect,” Salvagno said. “Each year you lose three or four key players, but we have a few freshmen coming in who will be big contributors.

“I think it will be fun to watch us this year.”

Boonsboro

The Warriors return eight starters from last year’s team that won the county title and finished 8-4-4.

Among the returnees are senior goalkeeper Bre Springer, who led the county in shutouts (11) and goals-against average (0.44) last season, and junior forward Leah Cadigan, whose team-high 10 goals last year make her the top returning scorer in the county. They were all-county first-team selections, while senior forward Rachel Holmes was on the second team.

Gone, however, is star defender Emily Cronise, who was the 2012 Herald-Mail Player of the Year as a senior.

“From top to bottom, compared to last year, we’re pretty solid,” coach Chris Lantz said. “But without Cronise, we don’t have that one player who can dominate a game. But with everyone coming back, with another year of experience, we should be more competitive than last year.”

Sadly, Boonsboro also is still dealing with the July death of Michaela Grove, who earned all-county second-team honors as a sophomore forward last year.

“The girls are pulling together, sticking together, just doing their best to honor her every single day,” Lantz said.

Beginning this school year, Boonsboro has changed classification, moving from 1A up to 2A.

“I don’t even know if we’re going to realize the change until the playoffs,” Lantz said. “Our regular-season schedule is pretty much the same, but it will be a big challenge going into the playoffs for sure.”

North Hagerstown

Believe it or not, the once perennially powerful Hubs haven’t finished a season with a winning record since 2009.

“I definitely think we have the team to change that this year,” coach Rick Aleshire said.

North has seven returnees from last year’s team that went 4-10-1, including junior Sarah Troxell, who was an all-county first-team defender (and the team’s points leader), and second-team midfielders Morgann Wilcox, a senior, and Mary Kinman, a sophomore. Aleshire said Wilcox will move to the striker position this fall.

Aleshire also said he is expecting big things from sophomore defender Anna Schoeck, as the Hubs switch their style of play from man-to-man to zone.

“We’re putting in a whole new formation, and it’s going to be a learning process for the girls,” he said. “But they’re grasping it real well.”

The No. 1 goal, he said, is to finish with a winning record.

“Everything else will lead us up to that,” he said. “We hope to get in the running for the county championship and then do well at regionals.”

Smithsburg

The young Leopards return seven starters from last year’s team that went 8-6-2 for Smithsburg’s first winning season in four years.

Emma Gerhold, an all-county second-team defender last season, is the only senior.

“We’re a young team, but we have a solid core of returning players,” coach Victor Della Mea said. “We have a lot of girls who have been with the program for two or three years, so the chemistry is a little better coming in this season than it’s been in the past.”

Juniors Corinne Burk (goalkeeper) and Sarah Duckworth (forward) also were all-county second-teamers last year. Burk had eight shutouts, while Duckworth scored a team-high four goals.

When the 1A West region playoffs finally arrive, Smithsburg won’t have to worry about either Boonsboro or Mountain Ridge. The two traditional powers have both moved up to 2A.

“The 1A landscape is completely different now,” Della Mea said. “A lot of things have broken down to be favorable for us this year.”

Clear Spring

The Blazers also are coming off their first winning season in four years. They finished 9-7 after falling 1-0 to eventual state runner-up Brunswick in the 1A West region semifinals.

Among their eight returning starters are all-county first-teamer Lexi Albert, a junior, and second-teamers Victoria Lulciuc, a junior, and Sam Staley, a senior. Albert tallied a team-high 15 points last season, including a county-best nine assists, while Lulciuc scored a team-high five goals and Staley stood out defensively.

“They’re pretty much the anchor,” coach Brian Albert said. “They’re going to play right up the middle for us. They play year-round and they’re our three best players.

“The best thing is that we have our defense back,” he added. “But (Tori Albert, the four-time all-county goalkeeper) graduated. That’s going to be tough to fill. I can say that even though she’s my daughter.”

Clear Spring, which will no longer compete in the MVAL, has added some West Virginia schools to its schedule, including Martinsburg, Spring Mills and Hedgesville.

“I expect us to be about 9-7 or 8-8 again,” the coach said. “We should be in every game.”

South Hagerstown

Marc David is the Rebels’ new head coach, taking over for Abib Niang, who spent three seasons at the helm.

David spent several seasons working with the South boys soccer team. He was the head coach for three years (2007-09) and an assistant the last two.

He takes over a girls team that went 3-11-1 last year and a program that has never had a winning season.

“My main goal for this year is to make sure the seniors have a very positive experience on their way out and that the program starts to grow in a successful manner,” David said. “By the end of the season, I hope to be more successful than we are now and carry that into the future.”

Among the returnees are junior Tori Mills, an all-county first-team forward last fall, and sophomore forward Kayle Farrow, who scored a team-high five goals last year. David said senior Amanda Harrast will anchor the defense.

Senior Katrice Dickson, who stood out for the Rebels at nearly every position on the field over the last few years, decided not to play soccer this fall in order to focus more on basketball, David said.

Hancock

The Panthers also have a new coach as Liz Rau has taken over for Karen (Sornson) Morgan, who had been with the program since it began in 2006.

Hancock, coming off back-to-back winless seasons, last tasted victory on Sept. 23, 2010 — a 5-3 win over Bishop Walsh.

“A win would be nice, but we’re just looking to see improvement on the field throughout the season,” Rau said. “We’re just looking to build a better, more cohesive team, work on skills, work on plays, have some fun and build some pride.

“We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re excited.”

Rau said only about a third of the 19 girls on her roster were on last year’s team. Among the returnees are four seniors — Sarah Mann, Brianna Castle, Rachel Haines and Hannah Bishop. Interestingly, Mann also will be the kicker on Hancock’s football team this fall.

“We’re going to be rotating positions,” Rau said. “I want them to be comfortable at a lot of positions so they can play wherever they’re needed on the field.”

St. Maria Goretti

While both of the Gaels’ all-county players (Lauree Lorensen and Alexis Barone) from last year’s 4-14-4 team have graduated, the good news is that they were Goretti’s only two seniors last fall.

The best news might be that coach Mark Barone has 27 girls on his roster.

“That allows me to create a true JV team. I don’t think we’ve had one of those before,” he said. “And we only have four seniors this year, and that means our numbers are going to stay up. That gives me more time to develop the team in the proper manner, introducing them to varsity soccer at the appropriate pace.”

Key additions include senior Abby Pasierb, who played at Chambersburg last fall after starting at Goretti as a freshman and sophomore, and freshman Taylor Blenckstone, who stood out as an eighth-grader at Saint James last year.

“We have a solid recruiting class,” said Barone, who has four freshmen in his starting lineup.

“This fall, we’re going to be really competitive, in my opinion,” he said. “We have a good schedule for our team. There’s no reason why we can’t be above .500 if this team plays up to its abilities.”

Saint James

Laurie Douglass, an assistant coach last year with the Saints, is now their head coach. She takes over for Mary Baer, who only was at the helm for one season.

The Saints have four returning starters from last year’s 4-9-1 team, including sophomore midfielder Leanne Ludwick, who was an all-county second-teamer and voted the team’s MVP last fall.

The other returnees are midfielder Kerri Kline and goalie Nikki Jenkinson — the only two seniors on the roster — and freshman sweeper Carter Pennington, who started as an eighth-grader.

“Most of our starters are 10th-graders or younger,” Douglass said. “We’re definitely young, but we’ve had a good couple weeks of practice. It’s going to be fun season for us either way. There’s definitely potential. We’ve had some good athletes come in, and they’re all working hard. We’re hopeful.”

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