Maryland girls’ soccer playoffs begin Thursday, so several conferences and counties crowned champions over the past week.
In Howard County, where regular season record determines the annual champion, River Hill (9-4-1, 9-1-1 Howard County) beat Wilde Lake last Thursday to clinch 2013 county bragging rights. Last year’s 3A state champions, the Hawks earned a No. 1 seed and a bye in the 3A East region. They’ll play their first game Oct. 29, and when they do, they could see Wilde Lake again: the Wildcats (7-4-2, 7-3-1) play Glenelg (4-8-0, 4-6-0) for the right to face River Hill in that second round.
“It works out a little bit for us. We’ve had about half of our starting lineup pretty banged up throughout the season, so the bye gives us some time to regroup,” River Hill Coach Brian Song said. “If we consider ourselves an engine, we’re probably running on 75, 80 percent right now. We still have that other 20 percent that’s still missing whether because of injury or other parts of the game. But at this point in the season, you’ve got to gut it out and play with what you’ve got.”
No. 4 Bethesda-Chevy Chase (12-1-1, 5-0-0) once again clawed its way to the top of Montgomery County 4A’s loaded South division. Quince Orchard (10-1-1, 5-0-0), dominated the 4A West division. Though no Montgomery County 4A champion is crowned other than the team that emerges from that region in the state tournament, Bethesda-Chevy Chase did dispose of Quince Orchard, 2-1, when the two 4A leaders faced off Oct. 1. Blair (8-6-0, 4-0-0) finished the regular season atop the 4A North.
For B-CC, the road to the state tournament will likely go through Montgomery County teams like No. 5 Whitman, Churchill, or Walter Johnson, each of whom the Barons had to battle to beat once already this season.
“It’s hard [playing those same good teams again], but that’s the beauty of the playoffs. There’s more game manipulation, instruction, and game planning,” B-CC coach Rob Kurtz said. “. . . The way things are now — it’s so competitive. You’ve gotta get a good bounce, you’ve gotta get a good break, you’ve gotta be healthy, you’ve got to feel confident. A lot of it’s just controlling emotion and pressure.”
The unofficial champion of Montgomery County’s 3A and 2A schools is undoubtedly Damascus (14-0-0, 7-0-0 Montgomery 3A/2A), which threw all challengers flat on their backs in an undefeated regular season. The Hornets played just two one-goal games (a 2-1 win over B-CC and another 4A South school in Walter Johnson), and outscored opponents 64-5 in 14 matches.
Huntingtown (11-0-1, 11-0-1 SMAC) edged Calvert (10-1-1, 10-1-1) for the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference title. Even all season, the two teams couldn’t separate from each other in a showdown earlier this month that saw them tie 0-0 in double overtime, but Leonardtown (9-2-1, 9-2-1) knocked off Calvert last week to clear the way for a Huntingtown regular season title.
Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties played their county championships Tuesday. The Prince George’s title game pits the county’s 4A leader against its 3A/2A/1A leader, a template filled this year by surprisingly dominant Eleanor Roosevelt (11-2-0) and Gwynn Park (10-2-0). The Raiders dominated the Yellow Jackets, 6-1, behind two goals in five minutes from Emma Thrift, who finished the evening with a hat trick and a county championship.
In Anne Arundel, previously unbeaten Broadneck (10-1-1, 8-1-1) took on Arundel for the second time in six days after the two played a physical, grueling double-overtime match to a 1-1 tie in the teams’ regular-season finale last week. This time, Arundel got the better of the Bruins thanks to a goal in the first 10 minutes from Clarissa Kirsch-Downs. Despite several tantalizing chances, the Bruins couldn’t equalize. Both the Wildcats and Bruins earned No. 1 seeds in the 4A East bracket, and if both teams advance, they would face off for the third time in four weeks with a berth in the state semifinals on the line.
No.1 Good Counsel remains atop the rankings despite a tie with then-No. 7 Ireton and a 3-0 loss to No.5 Whitman in the past week. The Falcons were missing crucial starters for both of those results. The WCAC playoffs will decide the conference’s top team after Good Counsel and No. 2 O’Connell played to a fast-paced, action-packed 2-2 tie Tuesday night. A 2-1 loss to St. John’s is the difference between the Falcons and Knights in the WCAC standings. . . . With that tie of Good Counsel and a 6-1 win over St. John’s, Ireton looks to be hitting its stride just in time for the WCAC playoffs. . . . After struggling to score early in the season, No. 4 B-CC has outscored opponents 23-3 over its last six games.
1. Good Counsel (10-1-6) LW: 1
2. O’Connell (9-2-1) LW: 2
3. Spalding (12-2-1) LW: 3
4. Bethesda-Chevy Chase (12-1-1) LW: 4
5. Whitman (10-1-1) LW: 5
6. Bishop Ireton (7-3-3) LW: 7
7. Arundel (12-1-1) LW: 8
8. Damascus (14-0) LW: 9
9. Broadneck (10-1-1) LW: 10
10. Huntingtown (12-1-1) LW: NR
Dropped out: No. 6 Holy Cross (7-3-1)
On the bubble: Quince Orchard (10-1-1), River Hill (9-4-1)