City College third-year soccer coach Sedrick Smith knows that it won’t be an easy task but his Knights are looking for back-to-back Baltimore City championships.

This season will be completely different from 2009.  City lost two of it’s top three scorers including Carissa Shropshire, who netted 29 goals and had six assists.

“We miss her explosion,” Smith said of Shropshire.  “She was tall at five-foot-ten and would just stride down the sidelines.  We’re trying to find that second goal scorer now.  Rabiah [Elisa] can light it up but we need someone else out there to compliment her.”

The Knights went 9-2-1 overall, 8-1-1 in the City while averaging seven goals per game in wins.  They earned the top seed in the Class 2A North playoffs before falling in semifinals round to eventually State semifinalist Eastern Tech.

“We graduated six seniors, two of which were captains, so we lost a lot of talent and experience,” said Smith.  “This year’s team is young, we have 12 freshman and sophomores on an 18 player team so we’re learning.”

The Knights will be led by senior forward Rabiah Elisa (25 goals, 3 assists last season).  Elisa scored four goals against Digital Harbor last Thursday in a 4-0 victory.

“She is super aggressive,” Smith said of Elisa.  “Her biggest strength is that she thinks that she is the best player on the field. She’s strong, she’s physical and not afraid of contact.  In terms of pure soccer skills, there are better soccer players in the City but her desire to get to the ball and finish is what separates her from the other players.”

“Last year we had a team with amazing chemistry, a sound knowledge of the game and a determination to win,” said Elisa.  “The expectations are undoubtedly higher for the Knights this year.  We’re looking to be two-time. city champions of course but also make and take states.”

Smith will also count on senior captains Alishia Johnson and Ella Gensheimer for leadership with this young squad.  Returners Julia DiMauro (midfielder) and Alesia Robinson (defense) and Sydney Short (midfielder) all return and will play a big role on the team. Senior Diamond Sykes moved from defense into the goal.

Sophomores Kristin Miller and Dyzhannay Burton play in the back on defense and are very athletic but inexperiences.  Ruth Masse starts at the other forward position in her first season.

“We have a lot of players who are playing in their first year of organized soccer.  They may have played rec leagues when they were younger but they are learning out there.”

“There is a lot more teaching this year rather than trying to go out there and destroy teams which was our goal last year,” said Smith.

The Knights will have their first big test of the season today when they face archrival Poly on the road.