By Nelson Coffin
As defending champions of the A and B conferences, respectively, neither John Carroll nor St. Paul’s School for Girls are locks to repeat.
That said, the Patriots and Gators are not conceding anything, either.
Like their opponents, they have lofty ambitions for how well their teams will fare in the 2017-18 campaign.
Despite having graduated a ton of talent from their first title-winning squad in six years, John Carroll coach Hayley Howe believes that her team has plenty of promise.
It starts with a pair of talented freshmen keepers, Kyleigh Waugh and Caitie Brooks, the Patriots appear to be in good hands in the goal with junior Lexi Burch taking charge as a defensive mainstay..
Both (goalies) had significant playing time this fall on the varsity and JV teams, respectively, but the fast pace of the indoor game will test their reaction time and strength,” Howe said.
The Patriots will rely on junior Erin Scannell and sophomores Katie Hormes and Kaitlyn Sydnor and freshman Mia Katris on the offensive end, Howe said.
“Last year's offense, led by alumni Abby Hormes and Caroline Barwick, tallied over 60 goals,” the coach added. “Scoring will now fall on the shoulders of creative and powerful strikers like Scannell, (sophomore) Nia Christopher, (freshman) Faith Hess, Kaitlyn Sydnor and Katie Hormes.”
A Conference runner-up Mercy is back and ready to take the next step on the league ladder this winter.
“We return everyone but one player from last year’s team, and have added a bunch of players as well,” Mercy coach Nick Gill said.
Seniors Riley Rumbley (defense)and Emily Crusse (midfield) and junior leading scorer Olivia Warner (midfield) will be three of the best players in the league, Gill added.
“I am really excited about this season,” Gill said. “My longtime assistant coach Kris Ward and my brother Mike Gill bring a wealth of knowledge to our coaching staff and have a lot to teach the girls about indoor soccer. I’ve been coaching in the IAAM since 2009, and this is by far the most talented team I have ever had. We have top class players everywhere. Hopefully, we can put everything together at the right time in the playoffs.”
Last year’s top postseason A Conference seed, Garrison Forest, features senior goalie Madison Wilson, senior defender Ariana Wall and prolific-scoring sophomore midfielder Amanda McLeod.
Coach Ian Abrey said that the Grizzlies boast seven returning players on a team that is already off to a 2-0 start.
A young squad from Roland Park Country School will count on senior midfielders Kendall Lambert and Emma Sunderland to compete this winter.
Friends boasts a pair of senior defenders, Brenna Firlie and Seraya Mekle, to complement high-scoring juior forward McKenna Klausner in order to maintain balance this winter.
In addition to three standout returnees, sophomore midfielder Casey Planta, junior striker Zari Hayes and senior defender Darby Welsh, St. Paul’s School for Girls will welcome some promising newcomers to the squad.
Welsh, who is recovering from a torn ACL and plans to be back by mid-season, joins Hayes to give the Gators two big-time scorers.
“We return a good number of girls, but have added some great new players to play indoor this season,” St. Paul’s coach Joie Gill said. “We all look forward to another challenging and successful season.”
Fellow B Conference member Beth Tfiloh boasts three solid senior returnees, two-time all-star and center-mid Skylar Vertes, keeper Kayla Perlmutter and defender Natalie Grossman.
“As always, we plan to use the winter season to develop the BT soccer program further, learn and enjoy the game, and obviously, to compete to win games and reach our team and individual goals,” Beth Tfiloh coach Brendan Kennedy said. "We have several new players from the BT outdoor program and some talented freshman that we expect to contribute and positively impact our squad immediately."