The South County Stallions are off to a solid 5-2 start, their only losses coming to strong programs at Chantilly and Oakton. This week Patrick Noel’s team grabbed headlines by upsetting #13 Madison at home and overcoming a significant early deficit to upset Hayfield on the road. Now the Stallions don’t want to hear the word “upset” used for the vast majority of their victories.
“We don’t really consider our wins upsets any more, as of this week,” Noel told us. “We’re taking pride in doing things the right way. Even in some of our wins our players are looking at stats and individual metrics and thinking about about what they can do better to help the team. It’s really great to see.”
People around the region were already familiar with Gabbi San Diego, who did an impressive job last year leading the Stallions at point guard as a freshman. They may not be familiar with names like Keagan Schwab, Maya Taylor and Julia DeBrosse. Schwab is a sophomore guard averaging well into double figures, shooting over 50% from the field, 40% from three and 85% from the line. Noel says she “lives at the gym” and had an amazing off-season after spending most of last year on the JV.
Taylor, another sophomore, has settled into a nice role as the team’s third scoring option and has been extremely valuable doing the little things necessary to help the team win, especially on defense. DeBrosse, a senior forward, has been relentless on the boards and has done a good job defending players usually much bigger than her. She and fellow senior Sabrina Razo have been stabilizing factors on the court and provided leadership.
“We’re sticking to our game plans really well,” Noel says. “We wanted to limit Madison from three-point range and the girls did a great job of doing that, only allowing two or three. If we continue to take care of the ball–we’re only averaging around ten a game which is by far the best we’ve done since I’ve been here–we’ll be in good shape.”
The scary part is the Stallions still don’t have their full compliment of weapons available. Forward Nelliah WIlson is still recovering from a torn ACL and will be brought along slowly, probably not seeing action until January. Wilson is capable of a double-double every game, and she would give DeBrosse and the smallish Stallions a lot of help inside.
“I took some time the other day to consider how good we could be by February,” Noel said. “One game at a time but I really like our potential.”
The Stallions will play an interesting game this evening versus a solid West Potomac team led by center Natalie Terwilliger. It will be a major test for Noel and his team, especially considering DeBrosse broke her nose and may not be available. Check that game out if you can, it should offer a fascinating contrast of styles. And keep an eye on the Stallions in the wide-open Patriot District.
South County may be ranked in our Nova Nineteen this week–or they may not. If they are it may not be a good thing for them. Seems like so far this year any team that breaks in–Yorktown and McLean to name a couple–have then gone on losing streaks. By the way, impressive victory for the Westfield ladies on the road at McLean this week. The Bulldogs have only lost one game so far this year–keep an eye on them in the rugged Concorde.
Yeah, rugged Concorde all right. Those five teams already have 21 wins between them and that’s with the teams generally playing pretty tough schedules.
Seems like we’re missing a decent amount of players to injury/illness, whatever on the girls side. Every girls game we’ve attended at least one team has been missing a key player. SoCo’s Wilson and Herndon’s Taylor Strawser are still recovering for off-season injuries, while talented players like Annandale’s Sarah Shamdeen, T.C.’s Sasha Bates and Yorktown’s Liz Shean have missed time. Lots of other injuries to list, but suffice it to say coaches are being cautious and holding out players for more important games within the district.
Herndon and Langley are the favorites in the Liberty, but the “bottom” four make that district hard to forecast as well. South Lakes, McLean, and Yorktown have the firepower to play with just about anybody on a given night, plus Washington-Lee is getting better. Herndon looks amazing so far, and Langley is getting enough firepower from returnees to keep them formidable, so we’re not about to predict an upset regular season champion there, though.
Is anyone going to stop Tuscarora’s years-long winning streak out in the Potomac District? Isabellah Middleton has gotten even better and supplements sister Kennedy very well. There are signs the team is developing more depth as well. The Huskies (5-0) have already passed a major test defeating Freedom-South Riding. We’ll be eager to see if they can get past undefeated Stone Bridge on the road next week in a game we’ll cover.