QA’s, KI, Easton looking strong again
North’s 2A teams hoping to remain healthy, end South’s dominance in Bayside
No sport in the history of Bayside Conference championship play has been as lopsided as girls’ soccer.
In the 19 years since the Bayside began playing a girls’ soccer title game, only once has a North team been victorious, that coming in 2009 when Queen Anne’s County High defeated Parkside in a shootout.
Winner of nine of the last 11 Bayside titles, Parkside figures to again be strong this year along with fellow Southern heavyweights Stephen Decatur and James M. Bennett.
Lining up with hopes of putting a dent in that Southern dominance, will be the North’s four Class 2A schools — Queen Anne’s, Easton, Kent Island and North Caroline. No 1A team from the North has ever reached the conference final, and not since Snow Hill won back-toback crowns in 1998 and ‘99 has a South 1A qualified for the title game.
“Parkside’s going to be real strong,” said Queen Anne’s head coach Mike Kern, whose team lost 4-0 to the Rams in last year’s Bayside final, then suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to Parkside in the 2A East playoffs. “And Decatur’s always going to be strong. Bennett’s going to be tough, too.”
The usual suspects also look strong in the North.
Despite graduating midfielders Emily D’Orsaneo and Charley Rekstis, forward Merry Higginbotham, and stopper Allyson Frank, the North Bayside player of the year and a second-team allstate selection last season, Queen Anne’s returns a talented, experienced cast. The key will be keeping everyone healthy.
“If we can stay together as a group and play together as a team, I think we should be pretty competitive,” Kern said.
Keeping the group together was a problem last season as Queen Anne’s lost almost half a dozen players to injury, yet still managed to win its 13th division title in 19 years. The Lions figure to be a serious threat for a third consecutive North crown this season and look sound everywhere on the field.
Senior goalkeeper Emma Hill, an honorable-mention, all-state choice a year ago, is back, but could also see time away from the net. When Hill, who is headed for Salisbury University, is not making saves, senior BB Montoya will step between the posts.
Senior sweeper Abby Folker, a first-team North Bayside pick last year, heads a defense that last season surrendered a division-low 13 goals. She’ll be joined by several familiar faces, including sophomore stopper Tayrn Patrick and senior backs Emily Poad, Madison Ascione and Megan Lukehart.
“They all had plenty of time back there,” Kern said of his defense.
Senior Julia Reed returns to the midfield, where she’ll be teamed with sophomores Shannon Donovan and Kiwi Waddell, junior Kaitlyn Stiegerwald, and freshman Abby Blanchard.
A four-year varsity player, Savanna Corcoran is back on the front line, along with freshman Shyann Seymour.
“We have a lot of experience back,” said the Lions’ 16-year head coach. “The problem is we’ve only had one play day (two scrimmages were canceled). So it’s kind of tough because we really haven’t had that ability to see how we are against other people.”
Kern and company will get that chance to see what they can do against other people today when they host Snow Hill at 5:30 p.m. in their season opener.
Here’s a look at this year’s local teams:
Kent County Head Coach: Rachel Keiser
Who’s Where: Goalkeeper: Paulina Panas (So.); Alexis Langenfelder (Fr.); Backs: Maggie Jones (Sr.); Zoe Panas (Sr.); Lauren Edwards (Jr.); Shannon Haley (Sr.); Sarah Cataldo (Sr.); Carley Pete (Jr.); Allison Black (So.); Midfield: Elizabeth Walters (Jr.); Taylor Walters (So.); Audrey Helfenbein (Sr.); Logan Pinder (Fr.); Grace Boege (So.); Forwards: Kaitlyn Jones (Sr.); Jaime Heavlow (So.); Teira Johnson (Jr.); Marili Ruiz (So.).
Outlook: Keiser goes from assistant to head coach and inherits a team that allowed the fewest goals (15) next to Queen Anne’s in the North last year. Of course a big part of that defense, keeper Alyssa Kendall, graduated, but Keiser likes what she’s seen from front to back.
“They’ve worked really hard to balance out and work together,” Keiser said of all three of her units. “They know
after losing Alyssa that they all need to step it up a notch and help where needed.”
Kent Island Head Coach: L ynda Kepley
Who’s Where: Goalkeeper: Madi Banks (So.); Backs: Cassidy Creighton (So.); Natalie Schilling (Sr.); Morgan Gunn (So.); Midfield: Brianna Millett (Sr.); Jade Ewing (Sr.); Grace Schilling (Jr.); Forwards: Ally Heath (So.); Brooke Groves (Sr.).
Outlook: Only one team scored more goals than the 8-6 Buccaneers (54 goals) a year ago, and that was Queen Anne’s (54). Kepley has a solid nucleus returning, including Creighton, Millett, Grace Schilling and Groves, all of who were selected to the North coaches’ 2A first team last season.
“They have great attitudes. They have a great work ethic,” Kepley said. “They’re really bonding together as a team. They’re working hard in order to be the best they can be, and I think they’re going to be a good team.”
Gunston Head Coach: Jon Mellinger
Who’s Where: Goalkeeper: Ryleigh Paskoski (Jr.); Backs: Alice Agee (Sr.); Momoka Watanabe (Jr.); Emma Hottel (Jr.); Marisa Pisapia (So.); Midfield: Maddy Romberger (Sr.); Anneliese Clair (So.); Lily Phipps (So.); Cedar Foster (Fr.); Forwards: Megan Prochaska (So.); Natalie Prochaska (Sr.).
Outlook: Mellinger, who helped coach a boys’ team in Maine to a New England championship, takes over as head coach for Frank Ogens.
The Herons have only three returning seniors, who Mellinger thinks will be the core of the team.
“Those three seniors we’re going to lean on pretty heavily in terms of leadership,” Mellinger said. “All three of them are starters. Alice, Maddy and Natalie are great players, and what’s nice about that is, you go down the center of the field and you are going to hit a senior.”
In addition to playing in the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference again, Gunston will also be a part of the Northern Maryland Soccer League this season, which includes Jemicy, West Nottingham, FCA and Cristo Rey.
“We had a unique opportunity to join with those teams,
as well to just kind of diversify our portfolio,” Mellinger said of the new league. “The girls are going to play a lot of games but it’s going to be a great experience.” Saints Peter and Paul Head Coach: Jess Kile Who’s Where: Goalkeeper: Sophie Marciniak (So.); Backs: Jill Koski (Jr.); Jennifer Douglas (Sr.); Karis Ward (Fr.); Megan Hickey (Sr.); Midfield: Cat Christian (So.); Caroline Shilling (Fr.); Kaely Rowland (So.); Sam Kyle (Sr.); Forwards: Sarah Rust (Jr.); Caroline Murphy (Jr.).
Outlook: The Sabres’ streak of five consecutive ESIAC championships was ended by Worcester Prep last season. Kile returns the bulk of that squad, which figures to make a strong push to regain what it lost last year.
“Right now they are looking phenomenal. I couldn’t be happier,” Kile said. “It’s pretty even the whole way through. Even the people coming off the bench, they just kind of mesh really well together. It all just kind of flows.”
Savanna Corcoran and Queen Anne’s County will bid for their 14th North Bayside title in 20 years this fall.