Despite key losses, Archbishop Carroll hopes this scene replicates itself this year. TIMES STAFF/ROBERT J. GURECKI
Much like a bevy of other Delco teams, Archbishop Carroll has a new head coach this year.
Unlike those other teams, though, the Patriots’ new coach is pretty familiar with the team, and the former head coach will still be around the program.
Suzie Gennaro, who led Carroll to the past two Catholic League championships, moves to a volunteer assistant role to better suit her demanding work schedule. That move means that longtime assistant and former Nazareth Academy head coach Deb Brown takes over.
“We just decided to switch things up because of scheduling and work pressures,” Brown said. “But things are running pretty much the same around here.”
Which is a good thing for Brown, because she takes over another loaded Patriots team that is expected to make a run at another PCL championship. Sure, Carroll lost two-time All-Delco Kerri Hunt and two-sport All-Delco Maddy Lesher, among a handful of big-time contributors, but there’s a wealth of talent that most coaches would give a lot to coach.
That includes potentially the best tandem of teammates in the county, and definitely the most talented pair of sisters in the county, in twins Megan and Katie Kelly. Katie Kelly’s play as a junior enabled her to join Hunt and Lesher on the All-Delco team. She scored 24 goals and set up eight other goals, and she has a knack for coming up big in the biggest moments. Megan, a talented midfielder, was a second-team All-Delco pick and figures to be just as dynamic as her sister. The twins, who both committed to Virginia, are also being counted on to be more vocal leaders as seniors.
“They have excellent experience, especially with the caliber of play that they play during club season, so we need them to lead the team on and off the field,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of pressure that will fall on them to step up, but they’ll be fine. Maddy and Kerri both had big personalities, while Katie and Megan are more quiet. But they’re both captains and they’re coming out of their shell.”
While the Kellys will be tasked with leading the scoring charge, a traditionally strong Carroll defense will be led by junior Becca Zamojcin. Zamojcin, another elite club player, takes over as the No. 1 defender on the back line. Like the Kellys, Zamojcin isn’t the most vocal of players and will be a little bit different than Hunt, a fiery sparkplug who wore her emotions on her sleeve. That doesn’t mean she can’t be as good, though. Zamojcin is receiving significant Division I interest, and Brown seemed to indicate that her superb defender may join the Kellys in Charlottesville.
“She’s running and directing the defense a lot more,” Brown said. “She’s more vocal and we expect to see a lot of leadership from her. Her play is still extraordinary, and it’s great to see a kid like that maturing so much. She’s smart – one of the top kids academically in her class – and she likes UVA a lot, especially with the Kellys going there.”
One player that could benefit from the key losses that Carroll suffered is sophomore midfielder Keara McNulty. The Patriots’ lone freshman starter a year ago, McNulty made great strides during her rookie season where she learned how to play in big games.
“Last year when we went to play Cardinal O’Hara in the PCL championship, you could just see that she was terrified,” Brown said. “She wasn’t used to that kind of pressure. This year, she has a year of experience under her belt from going deep into the postseason. She’s used to playing with some of these players, and I think she’ll have a good year.”
Another key luxury for Brown’s rookie year as the Patriots’ head coach is the return of senior goalie Becca Brosious. Brown pointed to Brosious’ big-game experience as a third-year starter as a big reason why the new coach is so confident in her goalie situation, and there’s every reason to believe that Brosious should stake a claim to be mentioned among Delco’s elite goalies.
“She’s a very good goalie, and she came up really big last year in the first round of states,” Brown said. “She’s been through the PCL, she’s been through states, so she has experience. Nothing’s really new to her, and we don’t have to worry about getting her focused.”
What the Patriots will have to focus on, though, is being everybody’s biggest game. Championships bring extra attention from opponents, and Brown knows that Carroll will have a bigger target on its back. That’s not one of the coach’s main concerns, though.
“We just try to tell (our players) to just play our game,” Brown said. “We’re not going to change anything up. We don’t try to hype it up too much that people are out to get us.”
But they will be, though.