Garrison Forest looks to continue reign in IAAM; Crofton makes history
by Katherine Dunn
After a 2020-21 school year disrupted by COVID-19, many Baltimore-area field hockey teams will be young in terms of experience this fall. Teams had few scrimmages and some play days were canceled, so questions remain about most teams.
However, several teams who excelled in 2019 figure to be among the best again this fall.
The IAAM did not play an official season a year ago, but many teams managed at least a few fall games. Garrison Forest, the 2019 A Conference champion, returns as the team to beat with finalist Archbishop Spading aiming to supplant the Grizzlies. The A Conference expands to 10 teams after dropping to five in 2019. Bryn Mawr, John Carroll, Mount de Sales, St. Mary’s and Severn move up to join Garrison, Spalding, Notre Dame Prep, McDonogh and Maryvale.
Severna Park, the 2019 Class 4A champion, and Liberty, the Class 1A champion and 2019’s final No. 1 program, have some holes to fill, but should give the IAAM programs a run for the top of the rankings as the fall wears on.
Below is the complete VSN Field Hockey Top 20 as well as capsule on each team, including players to watch.
1. GARRISON FOREST SCHOOL
2020 record: 2-0
Coach: Malcolm Belin
Players to watch: Dani Mendez, Sr., Midfield; Alyssa Klebasko, Jr., Goalie; Cameron Medinger, Sr., Defense
Long hit: The Grizzlies could pick up where they left off after winning the 2019 IAAM A Conference championship. In addition to Mendez and Klebasko, the Grizzlies return junior forwards Ellas Kokinis and Lauren Widdowson as part of an extremely talented team that only needs to mesh to challenge again for the top spot.
2021 Spring record: 5-1
Coach: Shannon Garden
Players to watch: Charlotte Kramer, Jr., Goalie; Zoe Day, Jr., Defense
Long hit: The Falcons bring back all but one player from the short spring season and look especially strong on defense. They also have depth at every position as the 2019 Class 4A champs make a run at their 25th state title.
2021 Spring record: 8-0
Coach: Brenda Strohmer
Players to watch: Caitlynn Szarko, Sr., Forward; Lucy Davidson, Jr., Midfield; Jenna Evans, Jr., Forward
Long hit: The Lions, winners of three state titles in the last four years of competition, return about half of their roster from the spring season and aim to add to their 36-game winning streak. They have the young talent to fill in around a solid core of veterans.
2020 record: 6-0
Coach: Leslee Brady
Players to watch: Bridget Donovan, Sr., Midfield; Katie Fitchner, Sr., Forward; Becca Lawn, Sr., Defense; Ally Keith, Jr., Midfield
Long hit: The Cavaliers cobbled together a short season last year but didn’t play any of the top teams. However, they return four starters from the 2019 IAAM A Conference finalist squad and add six talented freshmen to give Garrison Forest a run for the top spot.
2021 Spring record: 5-0
Coach: Carrie Vosburg
Players to watch: Lana Hamilton, Sr., midfield/forward; Jillian Trout, Sr., midfield; Savannah Brooks, Sr., goalie
Long hit: The Wildcats allowed only two goals in their run through the shortened Anne Arundel County spring season and they bring back four starters from that defensive unit. Seven total starters return.
2021 Spring record: 9-1
Coach: Shelly Chamness
Players to watch: Maddie Vasilios, Jr., Midfield; Puja Nanjappa, Jr., Midfield
Long hit: Last spring’s Howard County champs return seven starters — six from the 2019 Class 3A state semifinalist squad — and many three year starters at attack and midfield, including Vasilios, the Howard County Times Player of the Year as a sophomore.
2021 Spring record: 7-0
Coach: Meredith Lott
Players to watch: Emily Snyder, Sr., Forward/Midfield; Sofia Lopez, Sr., Midfield
Long hit: After a trip to the Class 4A state final in 2019, a strong group of seniors led the way last spring, but a skilled group of youngsters should fill in around five returning starters.
2021 Spring record: 2-3
Coach: Shannon Hanratty
Players to watch: Maya Everett, Jr., Midfield; Arden Hunteman, Jr. Forward
Long hit: The Bruins return six starters from the spring season and also bring back a strong group of players who were first off the bench to keep them competitive in Anne Arundel County.
2021 Spring record: 5-5
Coach: Molly Milani
Players to watch: Sophia Baxter, Jr., Defense/Midfield; Natalie Freeman, Jr., Midfield
Long hit: The Mustangs, who won their first state title in 2019, return seven starters from the spring season and add Freeman, a talented transfer from Garrison Forest.
2020 record: N/A
Coach: Katrina Ross
Player to watch: Emma Kroneberger, Sr., Defense
Long hit: The Blazers played 16 games last fall — including some in the fall high school league — but graduated 13 players. They have a lot of talented underclassmen and could surprise a few opponents.
2020 record: Did not play
Coach: Eva Winiarski
Players to watch: Kori Edmondson, Sr., Forward; Piper Borz, Jr., Forward
Long hit: McDonogh opted out of the unofficial season last fall after reaching the IAAM semifinals in 2019, but new coach Winiarski has a strong core of experienced seniors to keep them competitive in the A Conference.
2021 Spring record: 4-2
Coach: Hope Battista
Players to watch: Maddie Kanda, Sr., Forward; Gracelyn Solarz, Sr., Defense
Long hit: The Seahawks return just five starters from the spring season, but they have solid players at every position and the chemistry that comes with 12 seniors.
2020 record: 3-2-1
Coach: Jeanette Budzik
Players to watch: Ava Mickel, Sr., Forward/Midfield; Izzy Rothwell, Sr., Midfield/Defense
Long hit: The Mawrtians return 19 players from last fall’s shortened season and have a strong team overall to battle in the A Conference after being finalists in the B Conference in 2019.
2020 record: 4-2
Coach: Karen Zarchin
Players to watch: Gracie Driggs, Sr., Forward; Kyleigh Thorne, Sr., Midfield
Long hit: With a solid group of returning players, the Saints could make a big move in the A Conference this season after moving up from the B Conference.
2021 Spring record: 7-3
Coach: Nikki Trunzo
Players to watch: Kamryn Henson, So., Midfield; AJ Eyre, So., Midfield
Long hit: Henson and Eyre were All-Howard County first team selections after the spring season, but the Gladiators have some work to do to replace six starters including goalie Halla Silverstein, a Michigan commit who transferred out of state.
2021 Spring record: 5-2
Coach: Caitlyn Duvall
Players to watch: Morgan Hackett, Sr., Forward; Katherine Seal, Sr., Defense
Long hit: Class 2A state semifinalists in 2019, the Bulls return eight starters from spring and have a lot of versatility. Although still young, they have six strong seniors to set the tone.
2020 record: Did not play
Coach: Jacquelyn Cummings
Players to watch: Savanna Henderson, Sr., Midfield; Jena Vanskiver, Sr., Defense
Long hit: A lot of senior leadership returns, including four players from the 2019 team that finished 13-4, giving the Cougars plenty of optimism for a top finish in the UCBAC.
2021 Spring record: No season
Coach: Amy Skrickus
Players to watch: Kylie Corcoran, So., Midfield; Emily Najarian, So., Forward<
Long hit: The newest program in Anne Arundel County, the Cardinals play their inaugural varsity season after a jayvee spring. Although they have no seniors, they draw from a hockey-rich area and could make a quick impact.
19. SEVERN SCHOOL
2020 record: N/A
Coach: Betz Wild
Players to watch: Anna D’Amore, Sr., Midfield; Ryan Dineen, Sr., Midfield
Long hit: The Admirals bump up to the A Conference this fall with a strong core of upperclassmen who should improve quickly with a little more experience.
2021 Spring record: 7-2
Coach: Terry Duryea
Players to watch: Mackenzie Feltz, Sr., Midfield; Ella Morris, Jr., Forward
Long hit: The Knights didn’t return many starters for the spring season but battled Liberty to the wire in the Carroll County final, so they look to rebound again with just four starters back.