Charles County

Ashton Leads Rams Past No. 6 Patuxent

McDonough's volleyball team got a huge lift from its regular season finale, rallying to take a 6-15, 12-15, 15-12, 15-12, 15-6 victory over No. 6 Patuxent on Thursday. The Rams (12-2) clinched third place in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference with the win, and couldn't have done it without senior middle hitter Lori Ashton shadowing Patuxent standout Sara Shisler.

Ashton is 6 feet 2 inches tall and the defending SMAC champion in the triple jump. She also finished second in the league in the high jump. So she can get in the way of a player like Shisler.

"Sara is a great player, she has been Patuxent's go-to person all year, so we knew we needed to take away some of her big kills and force her to go more to tap shots for us to win," McDonough Coach Morris Davis said. "Lori did a great job staying in front of her and disrupting things."

McDonough will open play in the Maryland 3A South tournament Nov. 8 at Thomas Stone.

* LA PLATA: As the boys soccer team prepares for a showdown with Thomas Stone on Tuesday in the Maryland 3A South quarterfinals, Coach Chris Butler said much of the credit for his team's success this season should go to senior Nick Marquez.

Marquez, a three-year starter, played outside midfield for La Plata for two seasons before being moved to central midfield in the fourth game this year. Marquez has a goal and seven assists.

"Changing position is not an easy thing to do, but he's done an outstanding job with it," Butler said. "He hustles unbelievably, wins every loose ball for us. He does everything we need him to do for us to be successful."

* THOMAS STONE: The field hockey team's season ended at 2-8-2 after Tuesday's 2-1 loss to Calvert. But the three-year-old program was 1-11 in 1998 and this season lost six games in overtime. "I think that says a lot for our team," Coach Jan Milman said. "We didn't give in to anyone."

* WESTLAKE: Senior cross-country runner Carlos Hunt recorded his best time of the season in Wednesday's SMAC meet, finishing Oak Ridge Park's three-mile course in 15 minutes, 39 seconds. Hunt could be a contender for a state title on Nov. 13; he was sixth last year and has run on the state meet course at Hereford High six times since his freshman year. His won his last event there, this fall's Bull Run Invitational.

* LACKEY: The boys cross-country team placed 10th at the SMAC championships Wednesday. Jake Thiel was the school's top runner, completing the course in 17 minutes, 50 seconds and placing 28th overall. Linda Cotrufo was the school's lone girl entrant. She finished 37th in a time of 23:14.

-- Angie Watts and Greg Brice

Calvert County

Volleyball Powers Set for Postseason

With another exceptional regular season completed, the second-ranked Calvert volleyball team (12-1, 10-1 SMAC) can reflect a bit before the postseason begins later this week. Coach Dave Redden said his team's most memorable match so far came against Maryland 4A runner-up Severna Park on Sept. 21.

The Cavaliers were supposed to play Eleanor Roosevelt earlier in the season, but due to inclement weather, the match was postponed and the Raiders had to back out. Severna Park filled in and won the first two games. But led by Rachel Leitch, who served the final eight points, Calvert won the next three games and the match.

"That was one of the best matches we played all year," Redden said. "It made the girls realize that they have to work for every point and that no match is ever over. . . . That set the tone for the rest of the season."

* NORTHERN: As of Oct. 17, the Patriots had 35 points and were 163rd in the first annual Sallie Mae Cup standings. The Sallie Mae Cup is awarded to the school with the top academic and athletic program in the Washington metropolitan area. Much of the credit goes to the volleyball team, which is undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the metropolitan area.

* PATUXENT: Volleyball Coach Matt Poteet on the sixth-ranked Panthers' 1-15, 7-15, 15-12, 15-12, 15-6 loss to McDonough on Thursday: "Our game plan was to attack [McDonough's] weaknesses. We felt there were certain spots on the court that we could hit to with success, and we won the first two games in easy fashion. But the girls got away from the game plan and McDonough started digging everything up. . . . [McDonough] just wanted it more than we did."

-- Greg Brice and Bryan Tucker

St. Mary's County

Unbeaten Streak Ends, 1-0, but Raider Girls Upbeat About Soccer Season

The Leonardtown girls soccer team's 10-game unbeaten streak ended Tuesday with a 1-0 loss to St. Mary's Annapolis in a nonconference match. But Coach Jennifer Henderson said she is thrilled with the Raiders (9-4-1, 9-1-1 SMAC), who finished second in the league this fall.

"We surprised a lot of people this year. I don't think people expected us to do that well because we lost to many key seniors," Henderson said.

One of the young players who excelled was sophomore sweeper Lauren Maloney, whom Henderson called "an anchor of the defense."

"My whole defense was new this year," Henderson said. "But Lauren has stepped in and learned to play more physical. She's a quick learner."

* GREAT MILLS: The girls soccer team had its best season since its inaugural campaign in 1994, finishing 5-6-1. "We have a lot of returning talent, and they're coming around," Coach Andrew Croley said. "And we will have eight returning starters next year, so we'll continue to get better."

The Hornets had trouble scoring goals (just 18 in 12 games), so they relied on a defense led by sophomore Bethany Stevens, junior Christine McNamara and sophomore Kristina Demmick.

* ST. MARY'S RYKEN: The volleyball team went 2-11 after losing eight starters from last year's 11-3 team. But the squad was young, and Coach Tracy Loewe is optimistic about next season.

"They're determined to turn this around," Loewe said. "I think our future is very bright. . . . There were a lot of games where we were definitely in it. Other teams had to work for their victories."

* CHOPTICON: With the Braves' 1-0 loss to La Plata in the first round of the Maryland 3A South field hockey playoffs, Nancy Bottorf's 23-year coaching career at Chopticon came to a close. But the coaching duties will stay in the family: Bottorf's daughter, Anne-Elizabeth Vallandingham (a 1988 Chopticon graduate), will take over. "The most rewarding thing about this season was that it was so much easier to do it with the people standing behind me that would be there when I left," Bottorf said.

-- Brian Straus

CAPTION: McDonough's Alison Zeigler, left, and Jessica Cornette go for the ball during the Rams' win over Patuxent. With the victory, McDonough finished the SMAC regular season in third place.