Though the Centennial girls' soccer team experienced success by winning three of four scrimmages at East Islip High in Islip, N.Y., the most memorable moments happened off the field this past weekend.
Coach Mike Senisi took his team to the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and gave them a look at life beyond the soccer field. "I think that put everything into perspective," he said. "I think it was a very touching experience, and I think all of our girls got something out of it."
Senior forward Mandy Paizs said the trip brought the team closer on and off the field.
"You could tell that the bonding we did off the field helped us on the field," she said. "We had all of our meals together, and at one point we were all in the same room hanging out together for a couple of hours. We played some great teams, but I think the bonding we did will help us even more as the season goes on."
Atholton Gets a Lift
Atholton's boys' soccer team opened the season with losses to Magruder and Fallston, and Coach Roch DeFrances sent a clear message as the squad arrived for the Panther Tournament at Pikesville, Md., on Saturday.
"He told us the only reason we were here was to win the tournament," senior midfielder Andrew Chandler said. "We weren't going to settle for anything else."
Atholton responded with a 3-0 win over Thomas Stone and a 4-0 victory over Pikesville. Five Raiders scored, including junior forward Tim Breen, who had a goal in each game.
"I think it gave us a lot of confidence to go in there and just take both those games and win the tournament," said Scott DeFrances, who scored against Pikesville. "It was definitely important to have a few people score for us because we need to have some consistent scorers for us this season."
Atholton entered the season with high expectations after reaching the Maryland 2A tournament last fall after winning just five games during the regular season. The Raiders now turn their attention to Tuesday's county opener at River Hill.
"We were a little down going into the tournament because we had two tough losses, but now I think everyone is encouraged because we played really well as a team," Chandler said. "Now we want to have a good week of practice and focus totally on River Hill."
Rest for the Weary
Glenelg girls' soccer coach Dean Sheridan saw midfielders Alex Mundy and Meghan Haspert sleeping on the bus following the team's third-place showing at the North Carroll Tournament on Saturday.
"I figured after they played 160 minutes of soccer in about a four-hour span, they should be pretty tired," Sheridan said. "They ran all over the field, and they never came out."
Sheridan is counting heavily on his two center midfielders to play an integral role offensively and defensively this season.
"A lot of what we do goes through the midfield, and I think Meghan and Alex are the best midfield combination in the state," Sheridan said. "They are all over the field for us from the time the game starts to the final whistle."
Glenelg, which entered the week 2-1, opened the season with a victory over South Carroll but split a pair of games at North Carroll. After opening with a 3-1 loss to John Carroll, the Gladiators had just a 20-minute break before facing Old Mill in the third-place game.
"We knew it was going to be a big test for our conditioning," said Mundy, a junior who was a reserve defender last season. "But we felt confident because we run two miles every day before practice."
Glenelg senior outside midfielder Mindy Sartori's goal midway through the first half proved to be the difference in the 1-0 victory.
"We were all extremely exhausted after the game," Mundy said. "But it was worth it because we got to play some good teams, especially John Carroll, so we got to see where we were heading into the county season."
Ready for Big Test
Though River Hill Coach Willie Ibarra was pleased that his fourth-ranked girls' soccer team won the Towson Tournament on Saturday, he acknowledged it was just a tune-up for tomorrow's game at John Carroll, the top-ranked team in the Baltimore area.
"That was just the icebreaker," he said. "We'll get a true measure of where we're at against John Carroll."
At the Towson Tournament, River Hill posted a 2-1 victory over Oakland Mills to advance to the championship game. The Hawks cruised to a 4-0 win over Towson behind goals by Whitney Rhodes, a senior, and Erika Theisen and Laura Thatcher, two of the squad's nine sophomores.
"This is one of the youngest teams we've had at River Hill, but they have this strong desire to want to be a great team," Ibarra said. "I really saw that against Towson. If we play like we did and keep getting better, we're going to be a very good team."