Pointer girls aim for fifth state title
Lori Sexton has one of the easiest and toughest challenges of any coach taking over a new team this season.
Sexton is the new head coach of the Sparrows Point girls soccer team, taking over after Joe Lambert resigned to become the head coach of the Pointer boys team.
So Sexton takes the reins of a team that returns virtually intact from last season, when the program won its fourth consecutive Class 1A state title, its third straight Baltimore County title, and lost only one game (and it was in overtime).
On the other hand ... well, no one wants to be the coach that of a team with that much talent and not win another county and state title.
Fortunately, Sexton isn’t coming in cold. She’s been at Sparrows Point for a long time, and has spent the last few seasons as the girls assistant coach.
“I don’t feel like a new coach,” Sexton agreed. “Serving the team in a new capacity will be a slight adjustment for me, but I don’t think it will change the dynamics or the rhythm of the team.
“I have given thoughts to the ‘whatif’s’ regarding the postseason, but there are 12 games in front of us that need our attention first. In order to get to there, we need to focus on each game individually as they happen and we are going to keep our attention on what needs to be done now.”
As opposed to last year, when the Pointers won their fourth straight state title after graduating the bulk of the team that won the three previous titles, Sparrows Point graduated two key starters: defender Hannah Auvil and midfielder Kasie Lambert.
The team returns All-State player Julie Lynch, still just a junior, as well as sophomore Alayna Jerome, who started as a freshmen and was one of the team’s leading scorers.
Standout goalkeeper Jaddah Foos is only a sophomore, and defender Kali Bell and midfielder Skyler Owens are juniors. Samantha Luby is one of the few seniors on the team.
Some new starters Sexton expects to play key roles this season are Dezirae Pomory, Jasmine Pinter and Emilee Travagline.
There’s enough new players so as to guard against the team perhaps growing bored of winning state titles. Plus, a fifth straight state title will set a new state record for consecutive soccer state championships (Sparrows Point holds the girls record).
Plus, the Pointers have reached the coveted status of “team everyone wants to beat.”
“Every year, the girls step up to the challenge,” Sexton said. “Our team has several new athletes that haven’t experienced any titles up at the varsity level, so their motivation comes from wanting to be a part of it.
“The returning players know what it’s like to be there and want to defend our titles. We have not discussed setting a state record at this point, although it will be in the back of my mind all season. Our schedule this season has some new competition that will keep us on our toes and keep the girls accountable for keeping their game up.”
The Pointers will play at Bel Air in the season opener on September 5, then travel to Hereford on September 7.
Sparrows Point also hosts Century on October 2 and Mercy on October 19, as well as playing in a tournament at River Hill on September 8-9.
After four straight years of playing in the county championship game at Franklin High, the Pointers can play for the county title at home; assuming, of course, they win their division.
Catonsville should be their biggest challenger in Division II, which also includes Patapsco, Eastern Tech, Loch Raven and Kenwood.
Sparrows Point has lost five games over the previous four seasons, and only one game over the past two years. That was a 2-1 overtime defeat at Perry Hall last year. The Pointers avenged that loss with a 2-0 win over the Gators in the county championship game.
“We did lose some key players, but we have several underclassmen who will work to fill the shoes of those who have left,” Sexton said. “We’re excited to have the chnce to pay the county championship game on our own turf.
“We are just as challenged to beat our opponents as they are to beat us.”
Jasmine Pinter works against Emily Vetri as their Sparrows Point teammates watch during a recent practice.
Samantha Bennett and Emilee Travagline vye for the ball during a Sparrows Point practice last week.
Julie Lynch will be a key player as the Sparrows Point girls attempt to set a state record with their fifth consecutive state championship.