Metro-area programs hope to build on ’15 title sweep
Public schools’ feat 1st since ’98; McDonogh was perfect
The 2016 girls soccer season in the metro area certainly has a tough act to follow.
Last season, perennial national power McDonogh kept rolling in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland’s A Conference, winning its t hird straight championship and finishing 12-0 to complete its second straight perfect season as the metro area’s top-ranked team.
The top four public schools followed with an unprecedented accomplishment.
For the first time since the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association began playing separate title games for all four classifications in 1998, metro-area teams swept the championships.
No. 2 Sparrows Point went 17-0 to claim its third straight Class 1A crown; No. 3 Bel Top 15 poll with outlooks for each team; players to watch; key numbers
“The message as a coach is to be incredibly proud of what was accomplished as a team last year, but to realize that this year is a different team and we’re starting from square one. If we want to maintain that level of success we have to re-earn it from the get-go.”
Air also enjoyed a perfect season, going 19-0 to take Class 3A; No. 4 Broadneck was unbeaten at 16-0-3 to win Class 4A; and No. 5 Fallston went 18-1, losing only to Bel Air, to capture Class 2A.
The metro area’s top five teams combined to go 82-1-3 last season.
“Last year was incredibly special and it was fun to watch the other teams be successful because it shows the high level of competition we play,” said Bel Air coach Josh Clemmer. “In soccer, you can’t ask a team at the beginning of the year, ‘Let’s go undefeated and win the state championship’ because it’s such a fickle game where one bounce or goal can change an entire game. A lot of things have to go your way.”
With that in mind, Clemmer is approaching this season assuming that it’s a different team with a clean slate. That means more hard work and hoping the fortunate bounces continue.
“The message as a coach is to be incredibly proud of what was accomplished as a team last year, but to realize that this year is a different team and we’re starting from square one,” he said. “If we want to maintain that level of success we have to re-earn it from the get-go — from tryouts to, hopefully, the championship game. And you have to earn every goal, every save and every win along the way.”
The bonus for all five of last year’s championship teams is they have returning players with championship experience.
McDonogh once again opens the season as the No. 1 team and a favorite to win its fourth straight IAAM A Conference crown. But the Eagles lost key pieces — most notably the dynamic scoring duo of Bridg-
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Josh Clemmer, coach of Class 3A champion Bel Air
ette Andrzejewski and Kia Rankin, who graduated, and fellow All-Metro pick Kori Locksley, who moved away — to provide more hope for league rivals Archbishop Spalding, Notre Dame Prep and others. Seniors Marissa Vincent and Jenna Soriano will be counted on to provide leadership and sophomore Julia Dorsey becomes the Eagles’ go-to scorer with plenty of surrounding talent.
At Broadneck, can the Bruins top last year’s season, which produced the program’s first state crown? Coach John Camm thinks there’s a chance.
They have senior leadership led by All-Metro standouts Hailey Small and Maddie Bragaw; a sophomore class with five players that combined to score 25 goals as freshmen; and another fine freshman class.
“In 2015, we just put it all together, played our best soccer in the end and played some great teams and managed to stay ahead of them,” Camm said. “In 2016, if we can keep the same intensity and focus, I think we can be even a little better.”
Fallston coach Mark Hannahs has nine starters back, including a strong senior class leading the way. He has a plan to motivate his team, starting with more intense fitness training. In the first team meeting this summer, his message was clear.
“I told them that we haven’t accomplished anything yet and that was last year’s team,” he said. “And I did mention that there has never been a Harford County [soccer] program — male or female — that has won two straight state championships. For the seniors, you can go out as a team that won two in a row. We’re going to push you and push you and after that, it’s up to you.”
Bel Air, which beat Fallston, 1-0, last season to claim Harford County bragging rights, also would like to be the first to make it two in a row. The Bobcats graduated key players from last year’s team, but believe they have the making for another special season. Carolyn Doheny, a junior midfielder in her third varsity season, is one of several players expected to step into a leadership role. The Bobcats had nine seniors graduate. Can they match the 2015 season? “I think it’s going to be really tough, but, in a way, it really helps because we know what we have to do,” Doheny said. “Wehave all these slots to fill, but there’s so many kids coming up that want to fill them and are working really hard to put in the effort to help the team. I think them seeing howhard we worked last year will benefit our team this year.”
Strong youth feeder programs have been paramount in each team’s success and Sparrows Point will depend on new talent this year. After claiming their third straight state title, the Pointers’ most prolific class graduated — eight starters and 13 in all. Kasie Lambert, one of three seniors, will be leaned on heavily to bring the largely new nucleus together. The team got a head start playing together in the summer.
“I think it’s going to be a learning process because we’re very young,” Doheny said. “There’s a few of us still out there [from last year’s team], so hopefully the young players can see how we act toward each other and follow. It’s definitely going to be tougher. But I think once we get into the swing of things — getting tryouts over with and having our team together — we’ll be fine.”
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