Maryland public school girls’ lacrosse tournament preview


In the 2013 4A/3A state championship won by Broadneck, Sherwood’s Kacy Koolage runs into a swarm of defenders as she drives for the goal. (Jonathan Newton/THE WASHINGTON POST)

You won’t find a more loaded girls’ public school lacrosse field than the one for the Maryland state tournament, which opens play Wednesday. While the balance of power is perennially well-established and the upset potential for the top teams normally minimal, the girls’ field promises drama, and here’s what you need to know so you don’t miss any of it:

Maryland 4A/3A South

No. 1 seeds: Parkville, Poly

Contenders: Catonsville (6-7), Bel Air (6-6), Dulaney (6-5)


South River's Kacie Longo is greeted by teammates during the introductions before the start of the game with Severna Park on April 4. (Mark Gail/For The Washington Post)

Upset potential: Perry Hall (6-5), Kenwood (7-2)

Potential games to watch:

■ Perry Hall at Dulaney, region quarterfinal

■ Kenwood at Bel Air, first round, Wednesday

■ Catonsville vs. Dulaney/Perry Hall/Bel Air/Kenwood, region final

Breakdown:

The 4A/3A South boasts several teams that could contend for a state title, including Catonsville, last year’s state semifinalist, and Dulaney, which pushed Catonsville to within three goals in the region final. While Catonsville is a clear-cut favorite to emerge from the bottom half of the regional bracket, the top-half is wide open, as No. 5 seed Kenwood beat No. 1 seed Parkville during the regular season, No. 3 seed Perry Hall beat Catonsville but lost to No. 2 Dulaney and No. 4 Bel Air, and Dulaney fell to fellow No. 2 seed Catonsville in a wild regular season.

4A/3A North

No. 1 seeds: Westminster, Sherwood

Contenders: Westminster (7-5), Sherwood (9-1)

Upset potential: Howard (6-8)

Potential games to watch:

■ Howard at Westminster, region quarterfinal

■ Sherwood vs. Westminster, region final

Breakdown:

The 4A/3A North shifted to a conglomerate of Howard County, Montgomery County and Carroll County schools, meaning the relative skill levels of these counties has not been tested much against each other. That unfamiliarity could lead to interesting outcomes, though Sherwood is likely the favorite to emerge from this region after a state title berth last season. The Warriors beat out Howard — which narrowly edged Westminster — to get to that state title game, and they have experience and confidence on their side as they work for a repeat performance. The Lions could play spoiler for Westminster for a second straight season, as their 6-8 record reflects a team battle-tested against some of the state’s finest teams in Howard County.

4A/3A West

No. 1 seeds: Whitman, Quince Orchard

Contenders: Whitman (9-2), Churchill (8-2)

Upset potential: Quince Orchard (6-4)

Potential games to watch:

■ Churchill at Whitman, region semifinal

■ Quince Orchard vs. Whitman, region final

Breakdown:

Last year was the first year a Montgomery County team earned a state title berth, an important note for the 4A/3A West given its made entirely of MoCo squads. On the other hand, that team was Sherwood, which once again dominated the county but finds itself in the 4A/3A North for the tournament, leaving the 4A/3A West open for the taking.

The on-paper favorite is Whitman. The Vikings are in the midst of one of the best seasons in school history and their most substantial challenge came from Churchill in late April, a test they passed 15-11. Those two rivals likely will match up again in the 4A/3A West region championship, with the winner earning the unenviable task of taking on the winner of the 4A/3A East region for a chance at a state title.

4A/3A East

No. 1 seeds: Severna Park, Leonardtown

Contenders: Severna Park (11-2), Broadneck (12-2)

Upset potential: South River (8-6), Annapolis (9-5)

Potential games to watch:

■ Annapolis at South River, first round, Wednesday

■ South River at Broadneck, region quarterfinal

■ Broadneck at Severna Park, region semifinal

Breakdown:

Made up of Anne Arundel teams, the top half of the 4A/3A East region bracket has produced every 4A/3A state champion since 2006. In fact, either No. 1 seed Severna Park, No. 2 seed Broadneck, or No. 3 seed South River has won each of the past seven state championships.

Though SMAC teams on the bottom half of the bracket like Leonardtown (12-2) and Huntingtown (11-3) turned in strong regular seasons, no one’s been able to knock off the Anne Arundel trio in nearly a decade, and the same likely will be true again this season.

Though Severna Park nipped defending state champion Broadneck early in the season, the Bruins have rounded into form since, returning the favor to the Falcons and knocking off two nationally ranked teams (Roland Park and Good Counsel) in recent weeks. The Bruins likely enter the tournament as the 4A/3A favorites again, though they also have the toughest road of any team, needing to beat South River and Severna Park if they’re to work their way back to the state final.

Maryland 3A/2A

3A/2A South

No. 1 seeds: Mount Hebron, River Hill

Contenders: Mount Hebron (13-1), Marriotts Ridge (12-2), Century (10-4)

Upset potential: Glenelg (11-3), Centennial (7-4), Winters Mill

Potential games to watch:

■ Century at Mount Hebron, region quarterfinal, Friday, 6 pm

■ Glenelg at Marriotts Ridge, region quarterfinal, Friday, time TBD

■ Mount Hebron/Century vs. Marriotts Ridge, region semifinal

Breakdown:

Because of the shuffling of playoff regions ahead of the 2014 season, the last four 3A/2A state champions now not only play in the same region, but in the same half of that region — the top half of the 3A/2A North. A potential rematch of last year’s state title game — Marriotts Ridge vs. Century — could come in the region semifinal, and Century would face Mount Hebron in a state final-worthy matchup in the region quarterfinals Friday at Mount Hebron.

While the other Howard County teams on the bottom half of the bracket played well this season, they were no match for Hebron, Marriotts Ridge, and fellow Howard County Glenelg, which could challenge the Mustangs in a quarterfinal matchup Friday. In other words, the 3A/2A South region semifinal may as well be the state title game, and you’d be well-served to take the winner to emerge as the 2014 3A/2A girls’ champion.

3A/2A North

No. 1 seeds: Hereford, Patapsco

Contenders: Hereford (14-0), C. Milton Wright (10-4)

Upset potential: Towson (10-3), Edgewood (9-4)

Potential games to watch:

■ Towson at Hereford, region semifinal

■ C.M. Wright at Patapsco, region semifinal

Breakdown:

Hereford owns one of the most impressive lists of regular season results in the state, and it enters the tournament unbeaten. Though C. Milton Wright and Towson could push Hereford, the Bulls should emerge from the 3A/2A North still unscatched for a matchup with whichever team survives the brutality of the South.

3A/2A West

No. 1 seeds: Oakdale, Poolesville

Contenders: Oakdale (12-2), North Hagerstown (9-1)

Upset potential: Middletown (9-5)

Potential games to watch:

■ Middletown at North Hagerstown, region quarterfinal, Friday, time TBD

■ North Hagerstown at Oakdale, region semifinal

Breakdown:

The 3A/2A West region is another that is top-heavy, as the majority of its contenders come from the Frederick County teams in its pool. Oakdale’s only losses came to top squads Hereford and Manchester Valley, though Middletown pushed the Bears to within a goal. North Hagerstown is another legitimate contender that likely would have no problem with any of the Montgomery County teams in the bracket’s bottom half.

3A/2A East

No. 1 seeds: Stephen Decatur, Calvert

Contenders: Stephen Decatur (11-1), Calvert (10-2)

Upset potential: Parkside (9-3), Northern (8-3)

Potential games to watch:

■ Northern at Calvert, region semifinal

■ Parkside at Stephen Decatur

Breakdown:

In the new regional setup, Stephen Decatur finds itself with a relatively smooth path to the state final four, needing only to duplicate a regular season win over Parkside and knock off whichever SMAC team emerges from the bottom half of the bracket in order to do so. Calvert and Northern may have enough firepower to scare the Seahawks, but Decatur should emerge from the 3A/2A East.

Maryland 2A/1A

Most teams in the 2A/1A bracket come from the Northern part of the state in areas near or north of Baltimore. The only area team in this bracket is Southern (Anne Arundel), which posted a 9-4 record against much bigger Anne Arundel competition, losing only to the big three (South River, Severna Park and Broadneck) and a one-goal game against Annapolis.

The Bulldogs received two byes for their trouble, and will take on the winner of Joppatowne at Patterson Mill in the 2A/1A South semifinal next week.

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