How the Teams Stack Up
Calvert: The Cavaliers return nine starters, including seniors Caitlin Galligan (first team all-SMAC) and Shannon Baker (second team all-SMAC). Junior MF Hilary Linsenbigler replaces Anna Starkey, the lone starter lost to graduation.
Chopticon: The Braves return just three starters for Coach Nancy Bottorf's final season, but still have a talented group. The top players should be F Carolyn Emmart, D Amanda Palko and F Kim Thompson, all seniors. All-SMAC GK Holly Kubik is academically ineligible; Wendy Young will play instead. Bottorf, a 24-year coaching veteran, will be replaced by her daughter, Anne Vallandingham, next season.
Leonardtown: The Raiders allowed just eight goals last season and return a solid core. Top players include F Amanda Brown and MF Johanna Ramos, both seniors, and F Sarah LeBarron and MF Becky Schaller, both juniors.
Northern: Despite losing eight starters to graduation, including All-Met F Katie Andes, and SMAC coach of the year Mary Finley, it would be foolish to count the Patriots out. Senior MF-F Stephanie Beckman will try to fill the void left by Andes, who registered a Washington area-high 32 goals and eight assists last season. Beckman will get help from Fs Kim Brown, Becky Smith and Crystal Zorn.
St. Mary's Ryken: Of the 38 players on Ryken's varsity and junior varsity teams, only six are freshmen. The Knights' top scorer could be junior F Ashley Simms, who had 15 goals last year. Also back are senior Fs Mary Kay Allen and Britt Farrell and the Knights' top defender, Jessica Winterworp.
Great Mills:The Hornets lost 12 seniors from last season, when they allowed just nine goals in 12 games. F Erin Woodburn and D Kelly Raley, both juniors, take over important roles with just four seniors on the roster. F Julie Gustafson is the only senior who started last season.
McDonough: Like last season, the Rams' strength should be defense, anchored by senior Sarah Tipsword. The top returning scorer is senior F Lindsay Ingolia, who will get help from Fs Megan Hoko and Leah Kimball.
Thomas Stone: Three years ago there was no field hockey program at Thomas Stone. Now, with a slew of seniors on the roster, Coach Jan Milman said Stone finally looks "like a real varsity program." The Cougars return nine starters, led by senior Fs Alison Bateman and Amanda Kidwell and senior Ds Sofia Acosta and Christine Williams.
La Plata: The Warriors' most promising players are young, especially on defense, where the best starter is sophomore Jen Hasemeir. Leading the charge up front are F Jessica McLaughlin, MF Pam Still and MF Zainbu Williams, all seniors. F Missy Smith led the team in scoring as a reserve last season and may start this season.
Lackey: More than half of the 32 Chargers on the varsity and junior varsity teams are new to the sport. Senior links Rachel Hamilton and Devin Shorek are the top returners; Shorek had a team-high four goals in 1998.
Patuxent: Co-coaches Jessica Ahrens and Jen Prowinski lead a team that lost 13 seniors from last year's squad. Among the team's returners are senior F Angela Muncey, the Panthers' leading scorer last season, junior MF Megan Coffren and junior D Amanda Ripple.
Westlake: Coach Mandie Mudd is rebuilding the Wolverines' program from scratch. Westlake has three seniors, one of whom is new to the team, and four juniors. The Warriors should have a balanced attack, led by senior F Laurie Kauffman and junior F Natalie Nazarewicz. Juniors Sara Muncy and Erin Masters will lead the defense.
-- Angie Watts
Teams at a Glance
Jessica Ahrens/Jen Prowinski
St. Mary's Ryken
Players to Watch
MF-F Stephanie Beckman, Northern: The senior is one of the most versatile players on Northern's roster, and she'll be expected to pick up the offensive load for the defending Maryland 3A East champions.
F Caitlin Galligan, Calvert: The first-team all-SMAC and All-Extra selection led the Cavaliers with 12 goals and two assists last season. A senior, Galligan has excellent speed and hand-eye coordination.
MF Hilary Linsenbigler, Calvert: The junior was the only player from the conference to be selected to Team Maryland, an all-star team that will compete at the National Field Hockey Festival in Palm Beach, Fla., in late November.
Ds Heather and Holly Owens, Chopticon: These junior twins work side by side in the back for Chopticon and have made it tough on opposing offenses in preseason scrimmages.
F Ashley Simms, St. Mary's Ryken: The junior was St. Mary's County leader on offense last season with 15 goals and three assists. Simms is also known for her superb stickwork.
-- Angie Watts