Spring girls’ soccer preview: Pioneers aim to defend
Posted: March 19, 2013
WINCHESTER — A sweep of the Northwestern District girls’ soccer regular season and tournament titles for the first time in program history may prompt some coaches to rest on their laurels, but don’t expect Carter Smith to be one of them.
The Millbrook coach’s first full season at the helm couldn’t have gone much better — the Pioneers won 13 games and went a perfect 8-0 in the district — and he wants to make sure it wasn’t just a one-hit wonder.
“To me the outlook hasn’t changed,” Smith said. “I’ve always felt like the only stat that really matters is winning, and that’s what we’re going to set out to do.”
The Pioneers will have to replace a pair of seniors that were crucial to their success last year in Co-Northwestern District Player of the Year Callie Beegle and first team All-Northwestern District selection Erin Schwartzmiller, but the cupboard is anything but bare.
Senior forward Brooke Borlie, a first team All-Northwestern District and second team All-Region II selection who led the district in scoring with 18 goals, is back along with five first or second All-District members.
That type of returning experience could be huge in a district that will see plenty of fresh faces.
James Wood has to replace 10 seniors, Skyline had nine graduate, Sherando’s Rob Kilmer says this will be the youngest team he’s ever fielded and Handley’s John Lynch has five freshman and five sophomores on his roster.
“There’s going to be a lot of younger players this year [in the Northwestern],” said Lynch. “It could be anybody’s [to win.]”
The Bull Run District should be more of a two-team race, with Clarke County and George Mason, who each finished 13-1-0 last year, duking it out at the top.
The Eagles return the majority of their roster, including the area’s all-time leading scorer in senior Aubrey Fletcher, and are intent on winning a state title after losing in the finals and semifinals last year.
Following is a glance at the area teams:
Coach: Carter Smith, 2nd year
Last year: 13-4-1, 8-0-0 Northwestern
Key losses: Callie Beegle (Co-Northwestern District Player of the Year, first team All-Region), Erin Schwartzmiller (first team All-Northwestern), Bethany Ackermann (ACL injury)
Top returning players: Brooke Borlie, Sr. F (first team All-Northwestern, second team Region II); Jennifer Share, Sr. M (first team All-Northwestern); Caitlin Schrader Jr. GK (first team All-Northwestern); Alysse Hamm (second team All-Northwestern); Holly Elko Jr. M/F (second team All-Northwestern); Devan Davis, Jr. D/M/F; Casey Ackerman, So. M (second team All-Northwestern)
Key newcomers: Nastasha Justice, Soph. M/F; Brittany Smoot, Soph. D
Outlook: Anyone hoping that the Pioneers might take a step back this year need only to have watched their season opener to know that they aren’t going anywhere.
Facing defending state champion Woodgrove right out of the gate, Milllbrook showed it can play with anybody when it wants to, pushing the Wolverines to the brink before losing 3-2.
Smith said there’s no replacing a Callie Beegle — who was the Co-Northwestern District Player of the Year and the captain of the Pioneers’ defense — but there is plenty coming back to offset the loss of her and fellow graduated senior Erin Schwartzmiller.
“Having Brooke [Borlie] back is big,” said Smith about the senior forward who led the district in scoring with 18 goals last season.
“She’s a senior captain and with her leadership and work ethic, hopefully you get the younger girls to follow her and her effort.”
Joining Borlie on the roster are fellow first team All-District selections Jennifer Share and Caitlin Schrader, as well as second team members Alysse Hamm, Holly Elko and Casey Ackerman.
Smith knows that the Pioneers will get everyone’s best shot after going undefeated in the district last year, and he welcomes the challenge.
“I know we lost some defenders, but we have very competent girls back there replacing them and I think we’re well-rounded,” Smith said. “The girls know that we won’t sneak up on anybody this year. That’s the price you have to pay to get on top and we’re ready for that.”
Next game: Today, at Loudoun Valley, 7:30
Coach: Rob Kilmer, 14th year
Last year: 3-11-2, 2-5-1, Northwestern
Key losses: Morgan Sirbaugh (first team All-Northwestern), Kelsi Sillars, Ashley Morefield, Lauren Vangel
Top returning players: Mandy Fogarty, Jr. F (second team All-Northwestern); Maribeth Stotler-Watkins, Sr. GK; Kaelyn Cary, Sr. D; Audra Sites, So. M (second team All-Northwestern); Erin Magalis, So. D; Brianna Rossi, Jr. D; Katelyn Tuck, Jr. F; Margarita Beyer, So. M
Key newcomers: Lauren Reed, Fr. M; Alex Snapp, Fr. D; Madison Leckie, Fr. M; Tori Dean So. Striker (transfer from Millbrook)
Outlook: With just two seniors on the roster Kilmer would be forgiven for looking at this year as a rebuilding one, but that’s not how he sees it.
“This is by far the youngest team I’ve ever had, but they’re very hungry, very skilled and very focused,” Kilmer said. “It’s a pretty exciting group to watch practice and play.”
The Warriors proved their coach right with an impressive 2-1 win over Spotswood in their season opener and the group should only get better with the more experience they get.
“We’ve got two seniors, three juniors, five sophomores and six freshmen, so we’re going to take it one game at a time,” Kilmer said. “But we want that district title.”
The loss of first team All-District selection Morgan Sirbaugh is a blow but Sherando does get back second team members Mandy Fogarty and Audra Sites, along with senior goalkeeper Maribeth Stotler-Watkins.
Kilmer calls Fogarty the perfect leader for the team, and she showed why against Spotswood as she assisted on both goals by freshmen Alex Snapp and Tori Dean, and he has high expectations for the season.
“With the skill set we have we want to be a possession-style team and play to our strengths,” Kilmer said. “We’re going to be exciting to watch.”
Next game: Today, at Kettle Run, 7
Coach: Jim Carden, 5th year
Last year: 8-10-1, 3-4-1 Northwestern
Key losses: Sarah Callaham (Co-Northwestern District Player of the Year, first team All-Region), graduated 10 seniors in all
Top returning players: Meghan Hammond, Jr. M/B (second team All-Northwestern); Marissa Maddalena, Jr. M (first team All-Northwestern); Alex Stanford, So. M (second team All-Northwestern); Emily Woods-Hulse, So. GK; Emma Watts, Sr. FB/MF (second team All-Northwestern)
Key newcomers: Leah Hancock, Fr. G; Abigail Lanham, Fr. M/B; Makayla Gloyd, Fr. M/B; Brianna Heustis, Fr. M; Adrienne Thomas, Fr. M/B; Emily Denton, Fr. F
Outlook: Giving up three goals in the last 20 minutes of a season-opening 4-3 loss is never a good sign, but Carden is hoping it’s just part of the maturation process.
With 10 seniors gone from last year’s team which finished third in the district, the Colonels will have plenty of new faces to work into a lineup that returns four All-District members.
“We’re going to have some growing pains, but I’m looking forward to it,” said Carden, who has six freshmen and two sophomores on his roster. “Our formations are going to be a little different with all the young players, and it’s going to take a little while for everyone to come together, but our future is bright.”
Some of that bright future was on display in the season opener against Broadway when freshmen Emily Denton scored twice for James Wood.
If Denton and the rest of the talented freshmen can blend in well with senior Emma Watts, juniors Marissa Maddalena and Meghan Hammond — who is out with a knee injury but could be back by April — and sophomore Alex Stanford, Carden feels his team can play with anyone.
“I think as the freshmen get more experienced and get more used to the play, our depth is going to be a big thing for us at the end of the year.” Carden said. “Last year we went to regionals for the first time ever, so our goal is to get back there and I think this group can do that.”
Next game: Wednesday, at Broadway, 7:30
Coach: John Lynch, 3rd year
Last year: 6-10-0, 5-3-0 Northwestern
Key losses: Cindy Quarles (first team All-Northwestern, second team All-Region), Cassie Alamo (first team All-Northwestern), Tala Curry, Megan Kish
Top returning players: Ellie Volinsky, So. GK (first team All-Northwestern); Alison Snow, Sr. M; Anna Robinson, Sr. D; Courtney Pryde, Sr. M; Kim Rosario, Sr. D (second team All-Northwestern); Mary Deskins, Sr. D; Madai Guzman, So. M (second team All-Northwestern); Holly Ogilvie, Sr. F/GK
Key newcomers: Olivia DeArment, Fr. F/M; Katie Nerangis, Fr. F/M; Ruthie Rosenfeld, Fr. F/M; Rachel Levinson, Fr. M/D
Outlook: Coming off a sweep of the Northwestern District regular season and tournament titles in 2011, a second-place finish and a loss in the tourney semifinals wasn’t exactly what the Judges had hoped for last year.
But even with the loss of All-District selections and leading scorers Cindy Quarles and Cassie Alamo, Lynch is excited about the potential of this year’s squad.
“We’ve got a good mix of returners and new kids, a lot of freshmen, but they all have a lot of technical skills,” said Lynch, who will field a roster of seven seniors, two juniors, five sophomores and five freshmen.
“All of our kids are well-versed in playing soccer. I can put them in different positions all over the field and they know what to do.”
Sophomore Ellie Volinsky, an All-District first team selection, will be back in goal for Handley, second team members Kim Rosario and Madai Guzman return as well and seniors Alison Snow and Courtney Pryde have already shown their scoring prowess with goals in the Judges’ season-opening 2-1 win over Harrisonburg Thursday.
That versatility will come in handy for the Judges in the race for the district title.
“Millbrook is obviously a solid team, but I think [the Northwestern] can be wide open,” Lynch said. “We had a lot of close games last year, games where it could have gone either way. It’s going to be about which team is the most consistent.”
Next game: Saturday, vs. Western Albemarle, 7:30
Coach: Terry Ellis, 4th year
Last year: 20-5-0, 13-1-0 Bull Run
Key losses: Courtney Butterfass (first team All-State, All-Region and All-Bull Run), Courtney Rogers, Brittany Teasley, and Brogan Jones
Top returning players: Aubrey Fletcher, Sr. F/M (first team All-Group A, All-Region and All-Bull Run); Sarah Alger, Sr. M (first team All-State, All-Region and All-Bull Run); Morgan Fletcher, Sr. M/F; Taylor Marshall, Jr. F/M; Allison Crandell, Sr. D; Rachel Sefton, Sr. D (first team All-Region and All-Bull Run, Group A honorable mention)
Key newcomers: Hope Madaris, Sr. M (transfer from Stonewall Jackson); Sarah Clark, Sr. F; Mollie Schoeb, Sr. M; Jackie Tredway, Jr. D; Kati Kotka, Jr. F/M (foreign exchange student); Alani Nappi, Sr. GK (transfer from SVCA)
Outlook: A shift in alignment should help the Eagles overcome the loss of an All-State player in Butterfass, and it could possibly make them even more dangerous.
Ellis said they he plans on moving Aubrey Fletcher, who is currently the third leading scorer in Virginia history with 150 goals after a school-record 72 last season, from her usual forward position to attacking midfielder, a position Butterfass played last season during Clarke County’s run to the state semifinals.
“Aubrey’s such a dominant player, having her in the central midfield for our team gives her more control and allows her to create and attack from the back,” Ellis said.
Ellis said he’s confident junior Taylor Marshall (12 goals last year) will be able to handle being the main forward and is excited about the arrival of foreign exchange student Kati Kotka, who he said should blend in well.
The Eagles also return All-State players in Alger and Sefton, and sophomore Jessie Ambrosio will be back in goal.
After losing in the state finals and semifinals the last two years, and with 15 seniors on the 20-player roster, Ellis didn’t hesitate when asked if it was state title or bust for Clarke County.
“That’s it for these girls, that is the ultimate goal,” Ellis said. “Most of them are seniors and this is the best shot ever to make it happen, we have the players in place. We expect to be back there again.”
Next game: Friday, at Warren County, 7
Coach: Dustin Wheelock, 6th year
Last year: 19-4-1
Key losses: Katie Haeckar, Logan Tolley, Sarah Benkendorf, Allie Pieper
Top returning players: Hayley North, Sr. D (All-VACA and All-North Region); Maddie Deason, Jr. F (All-State and All-Region); Bethany Emswiller, Jr. F; Krista Freemire, So. D; Katie Wykoff, Jr. M; Sarah McGann, Sr. D; Kayla Freemire, Sr. M (All-State and All-Region); Hannah McGann, So. F (All-State and All-Region); Lindsey Silva, So. M; Jessica Crowley, Sr. M; Kayla Phaneuf, So. G
Key newcomers: Adena Ingram, So. M; Abi Beatty, Fr. M; Toni May, Jr. F; Sequoia Poths, Jr. D; Megan Norton, Jr. F; Mary Culler, Fr. M; Grace Snyder, Fr. D; Alyssa Stover, Fr. M
Outlook: While the losses of Haeckar and Benkendorf (16 combined goals) will hurt, Wheelock feels like this year’s team could be even better than the one that won the first VACA state title in program history last season.
“I actually expect us to be stronger that last year,” Wheelock said. “We have a lot of returning starters and some new girls that are coming in that are very talented.”
The late end to the basketball season has SVCA a little behind on practice time together, but Wheelock said once all of his players get some time on the field they should pick up right where they left off last season.
Haeckar was the captain of the defense, but freshman Grace Snyder will be expected to help fill the void along with three returning starters on the back line.
Wheelock is excited about the offensive potential of the Patriots, who return leading scorers Hannah McGann and Maddie Deason (21 goals each), particularly the prospect of having senior Jessica Crowley for a full season.
“She was with us last season, but she couldn’t play in the VACA because of transfer rules,” Wheelock said. “She only played like nine games but still almost led us in scoring and assists. With her and everyone else we have back we’re going to have a lot of offensive firepower.”
Next game: Today, at Stuart Hall, 5:30
— Contact Kevin Trudgeon at email@example.comFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1