Hylton Coach Felicia Mascarenas said she is not going to worry about anything until May. Last year, that attitude would have been prudent, as the Bulldogs (9-7) started slowly, but then won the district and advanced to the Northwestern Region semifinals before losing to Forest Park in the teams' fourth meeting of the season.
This year, however, Mascarenas is not going to be satisfied with merely an appearance in the regional tournament. With all but one starter back, she is asking a little more from senior A Elyse Day, senior A Michelle Jamrisko, sophomore A Kristen McCormick, senior D Joelle Miles, junior D Diane Nielson, senior GK Michelle Vassallo and senior D Ann Wisloski, who are all returning starters.
"I'm expecting them, once we are able to get on the field, to pick up right where we left off last year," Mascarenas said. "I told them I want the region banner this year, so I'm pushing them a little harder."
Fresh off its most successful season in school history, during which it advanced to the Northwestern Region final, Forest Park (13-3) began its third season inauspiciously. The Bruins struggled defensively in losing their first two games of the season. But All-Extra Coach of the Year Julie McClellan promptly made some adjustments -- improving footwork and defensive positioning -- and hopes to have the Bruins back on track to repeat last year's successes.
"I'm not sure if the girls expected the season to be handed to them when they walked out to the first game or what," McClellan said. "We just needed an adjustment. We'll be there. I'm not worried."
Returning starters include junior D Lindsey Blackwell, junior MF Shara Kantz, senior A Celeste Otsuka and junior GK Alyssa Zapien.
Woodbridge seemingly will have two head coaches this year, which should aid in the rebuilding process. Last year's junior varsity coach, Bill Clark, will be the head coach, and last year's varsity head coach, Heather Thorstad, will assist.
Only two starters return, and the bulk of the team will be players Clark coached last season. Senior Amanda Strand, who scored four goals in the Vikings' second game, a 12-8 loss to Potomac, will be on attack, along with sophomores Ashley Zanatta and Christy Hartman. Senior Judi Price, back for a third year in goal, will be helped by senior Ds Jennifer Clark and Shayna Page.
Cedar Run District
Osbourn Park opened practice on any hard surface it could find, be it the tennis courts, the parking lot or the driver's education course. The beginning of the regular season has been a bit smoother, as the Yellow Jackets overcame a two-goal deficit in their opener to beat Forest Park, 14-8.
"I was a little nervous at halftime. We were down by two, and it was almost like a scrimmage out there," said Osbourn Park Coach Kate Thomas, whose team was 12-2 last season. "But we went back out and held them to one goal and scored 11, and it was like, 'Okay, we're back.' "
Senior As Shannon Smith (61 goals, 12 assists), Margie Lesser and Kelly Goggins return, along with senior MF Ashton Jones and junior MF Lindsay Farmer. The defense is led by seniors as well: Morgan Buccolo, Danielle Vencak and GK Becca Ozl (136 saves).
Stonewall Jackson also opened the season with a victory over Forest Park, winning 13-9, but Coach Caitlin Barbakoff was not impressed.
"I expected to win by more than we did," Barbakoff said. "Shocking as it may seem, I have a lot of talent and a lot of depth. . . . Stonewall has not had a winning season yet, and I wanted them to come out and make a huge statement about how they were going to be. We made a statement, but I don't think we played to our ability."
Senior A Jenny Tran scored seven goals in the game and looks as impressive as she did last year, when she was named second-team all-district despite playing on the junior varsity for all but the final three games of the season. Senior MF Sarah Herschler is the most experienced player returning and will be instrumental on both offense and defense.
Only one week into the season, Osbourn has surpassed last season's win total. The Eagles beat Gar-Field, 10-6, the first victory in the program's two-year history. Junior MF Katie Jones had six goals in the game and will be the main playmaker for new coach Mike Riley, brother of Seton boys' coach Terry Riley. Junior MF Laura Bachman won 11 of 18 draws and also had one goal and one assist.
Coach Michelle Heindrichs's Potomac squad has six returning starters back from last season's 5-8 team, including senior A Christina Anderson, senior GK Angela Kuhn, sophomore D Roxi Marquez and junior MF Jenna Marshall (51 goals last season).
-- Colin Fitzgibbons