Following a successful tenure as the head girls soccer coach at Huntingtown High School, Charlie Raphael is leaving the Calvert County public school to take over the helm as the head women’s soccer coach at the College of Southern Maryland this fall.
Raphael had guided the Huntingtown girls soccer team to the precipice of Southern Maryland Athletic Conference, region and state titles only to be thwarted in those bids by longtime crosstown rival Northern each of the last two seasons. Even with a solid group returning players this fall, Raphael opted to leave Huntingtown to coach the CSM women’s soccer team beginning with this upcoming season.
“Believe me, it was a difficult decision to make,” Raphael said. “We’ve had some great teams at Huntingtown over the last five years and we should have won three state titles. But I have always wanted to coach college soccer and when this opportunity presented itself I decided to take it. It was not an easy decision, but the potential for CSM women’s soccer is unlimited.”
Like several other CSM coaches, Raphael expects the coronavirus pandemic, which brought an early end to the Hawks’ spring sports season, will benefit junior colleges in the immediate future. In his initial talks with potential players from Huntingtown and other SMAC teams, Raphael expects a large influx of freshmen players at CSM.
“I have a number of commitments already from girls at Huntingtown and other SMAC schools and I think we have 12 to 14 girls already and we could have 18 to 20 at tryouts,” Raphael said. “There are probably some kids who will stay home because of the pandemic and find junior colleges as an affordable option and they can play for the next two years and then maybe play two more years after that at a four-year school.”
Huntingtown athletic director VaShawne Gross was greatly appreciative of what Raphael did for the Hurricanes’ girls soccer program over the last five seasons. While Raphael may have pointed to his inability to lead the Huntingtown girls to a state title. Gross opted to take the high road and not view it as a stain on Raphael’s coaching record, which finished at 72-13-1 with one SMAC and two region titles.
“We truly appreciate Charlie’s efforts that he put into making Huntingtown High School girls soccer program one of the best girls soccer programs in the state,” Gross said. “It is going to be hard to replace Charlie, but we hope that he can sustain the tradition that Charlie has helped develop for the upcoming years. We wish Charlie the best as his pursues his lifelong dream of coaching at the collegiate level at the College of Southern Maryland.”
Raphael viewed the CSM women’s soccer program as possessing untapped potential, citing the successes of SMAC squads Northern, Calvert, Huntingtown, Leonardtown and McDonough in recent years. The former Huntingtown and Patuxent girls soccer coach expects more SMAC senior student-athletes to stay closer to home this fall, which should be mutually beneficial.
“Perhaps the one silver lining to all of this is that a lot of these young ladies who are good enough to play in college can now do so while staying closer to home,” Raphael said. “The junior colleges offer an affordable education and allow a lot of student-athletes to play two more years and then maybe play two years after that at a four-year school. The opportunities are available to them and I want to encourage a lot of them to come to CSM and possibly play for a national championship.”
Courtney Edelen (North Point High School graduate from White Plains), Lila Biggar (Patuxent High School graduate from Lusby), Ana Benitez (North Point High School graduate from Waldorf), Jenifer Nanosi, Kaitlyn Stancliff (La Plata High School graduate from La Plata), Ashley Tyson (Waldorf resident), Briana Mendoza (McDonough High School graduate from Waldorf) and Kiara Hayes (North Point graduate from Waldorf) could all return for their sophomore season later this year.
“We are happy to welcome coach Charlie Raphael to our CSM athletic family,” CSM executive director of student life and athletics Michelle Ruble said in a school news release. “He comes to us with a wealth of successful coaching experience. He has a wonderful and positive energy that is infectious and all of us at CSM are ready for him to get started.”