Pointer girls aim for fifth state ti­tle

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By BILL GATES bgates@ches­pub.com

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.”

PHO­TOS BY BILL GATES

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.

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