October 17, 2017
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  • Seniors Nichole Fish (7) and Madison Wheeler (6) hope to lead their teams to victory on September 21 when Northeast hosts Chesapeake.
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    Seniors Nichole Fish (7) and Madison Wheeler (6) hope to lead their teams to victory on September 21 when Northeast hosts Chesapeake.

Collision Course: Northeast vs. Chesapeake Girls Soccer Rivalry Primer

Colin Murphy
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September 20, 2017

The Northeast and Chesapeake girls soccer teams will square off on September 21 at Northeast, both hoping for a rivalry win—and a good omen for a deep playoff run.

Revamped Northeast Girls Ready To Keep Improving

Following a 9-7-1 season a year ago in which the Northeast girls soccer team fell to Chesapeake in the region semifinal, the Eagles are facing a rebuilding season without a core of 13 graduates who helped advance the program to new heights over the past several years.

And in the Eagles’ mind, that’s not a bad thing.

“As with every year, our goal is to improve on the previous year’s success,” said Eagles’ fifth-year head coach Scott Langlois. “Graduating 13 seniors, half the starters, we knew this would be a rebuilding year. However, I don’t look at rebuilding as a bad thing. In fact, I am super excited to work with a partially blank slate.”

Partially blank, because this year’s roster is a mix of returners in key spots and up-and-coming contributors.

Senior leaders include midfielders Kinlee Bruns and Nichole Fish, fullbacks Bianca Addivinola and Makenzi Spiegel, and goalkeeper Sam Baysic, all major players in Northeast’s rise over the past few seasons who will help guide the team’s younger players. The core defense of Spiegel, Addivinola, Evelyn Cronise and Taylor Stahl form the “anchor of the team” along with Baysic in goal, said Langlois, who also expects McKenzie Hynson and Hailey Dawson to step up and fortify the defense.

Bruns and Fish “are involved in every transition and control the flow of the game,” from the midfield, which is rounded out by Alison Clark, Alyssa Kisielewski, Alayna Mierzeski, Kera Ciezobka and freshman Kayla Alexander.

PHOTO GALLERY: Northeast girls soccer vs. North County, 9.11.17

Goal-scoring duties are always at a premium, but the youth of this year’s squad also offers promising options in Allyson Wills, Jenna Donohue, Jessica Brin and junior Kaleigh Cassell. “This group works well together, regardless of the combination,” said Langlois. “They are all natural strikers, something this team has lacked in the past.” As a freshman, Cassell cut her goal-scoring teeth in playoff-winning fashion by netting an overtime game-winner against Chesapeake in 2015.

The team got off to a quality start against North County on September 11, shutting out the Knights 5-0 behind two goals from Wills, a goal and an assist from Bruns, and scores by Brin and Fish.

Despite the winning record a season ago, Langlois felt the team underperformed because it didn’t build on the success of 2015, when the team won a program-best 11 games and made the 3A East region final. Last year’s team fell one win shy of the region final after falling to Chesapeake in the 3A East Section II final.

“Our initial goal is to get back to regionals after falling short to Chesapeake in the section finals last year,” said Langlois. “We underperformed last year, plain and simple. Underperformance starts at the top, so I am changing some of the training and expectations for this squad. We are running more, and working to improve our whole body strength, from calf to biceps.”

Still, the overall rise of the program to levels varying between respectability and excellence has bolstered the present and the future.

“The rise of the program has definitely helped its continued success … Now the girls are proud of their colors and work hard to improve each day,” he said, adding that JV coach Matt Campbell has done a good job preparing girls for the physical rigors of playing at the varsity level.

Much like in recent successful years, Langlois expects the strength of this year’s team to be its physicality, aggressiveness, relentless pursuit and overall mentality.

“Above all, our strength is a desire to win the ball,” he said. “Every player on the roster will bang heads and fight for every 50-50 ball. … This year’s team is incredibly fun to coach. There are no attitudes or dissent on this roster. Every girl is there to work hard, earn playing time, and win. We may not be the biggest, most talented team in the county, but no team works harder, and I expect that to show in our standings.”

FROM THE VAULT:

Slow Start? Not Exactly, Say Chesapeake Girls

The reality of being a 3A team with a schedule loaded with 4A opponents is that you’re going to face tough opposition.

For the Chesapeake girls soccer team, that’s totally fine.

“Anne Arundel County, all these 4A schools, it’s hard, but come playoffs, we’re ready,” said Cougars head coach Kevin Keeter.

So it’s no problem if opponents think the Cougars’ 0-3-1 start will make them a pushover on match day. Two of those losses — a 3-2 defeat to Mount Hebron and a 2-0 loss to Centennial — came on the same day at the Catonsville tournament when the Cougars played 160 minutes of soccer, and a recent 2-1 defeat to Liberty preceded a 0-0 draw with Old Mill at home on September 14.

Against the Patriots, the Cougars dominated possession and piled up way more scoring chances, but couldn’t break free for a goal.

“We’re 0-3-1, but we played tough teams to start, and I like that,” said Keeter. “It’ll be a case where we learn a lot. We might only be .500 or less in the season, which means we’ll be on the road for the playoffs, but we’ll be fine.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Chesapeake girls soccer vs. Old Mill, 9.14.17

It’s a similar formula the Cougars used to make a run to the 3A East region final last season, when they finished 9-7-1 overall, and they’ll have plenty of athletes ready to help them make a similar push this year despite losing 11 seniors to graduation. Senior back and captain Madison Wheeler leads a strong defensive unit that includes senior Riley Harrell, junior Karlie Stracke, freshman Amy Dolan and senior goalkeeper Ellen Ziaja. In the midfield, the precision passing of senior Summer Smith, sophomore Leia Black and senior Camryn Gerben will help Chesapeake when it forces its possession game on opponents, while goal-scoring duties will fall to midfielder/forwards Black, Haley Downin, Peyton Colhouer and Megan Byle. Reserves Brooke Hurst, Kiersten Blanchard, Camryn Hickson, Brittani Flores, Ashley Chew, Brooke Adams, Laney Lenz, Alexa Swick, Arianna Beers, Sydney Tayman and Lauren Tuley set the Cougars up with depth and athleticism.

Keeter likes his side’s overall athleticism — the team has many multi-sport athletes on the roster, including lacrosse, basketball and softball players as opposed to year-round soccer players — and he believes that September and October will bring out the soccer precision in all of them. He likewise noted the strength of the JV program, which has nine strong freshmen buoying its season.

“So, this program is going to be really strong across the board,” he said. As for the varsity, “It’s a good group of kids. They listen well and work hard.”

The Cougars play at Northeast on September 21 at 4:00pm.

FROM THE VAULT:

 


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