Emily VanCoverden can't shake the feeling that, for some reason, the Bowie High School girls soccer team is jinxed when it comes to the state playoffs.
On Saturday night at Severna Park High School, the Bulldogs lost to Parkville, 2-0, in the Maryland 4A semifinals--the fifth consecutive year that Bowie has lost in the state semifinals.
"I'm proud that we've gotten to states so many times," said VanCoverden, a four-year varsity starter. "But by now, enough already. The one thing I've learned the most about high school soccer is that there are winners and losers in every game, and on any given day, anyone can win. But it's never gone our way."
In 1995, Gavin Casey's first year as Bowie's head coach, the Bulldogs lost to Severna Park, 2-0, in the state semifinals. In 1996, VanCoverden's freshman year, Bowie lost to Arundel, 1-0. Arundel's goal was the only score Bowie allowed the entire season.
In 1997, Fallston beat Bowie, 2-1, in the semifinals, and the game-winning goal was scored on a penalty kick. Last year, Bowie and Severna Park battled to a 1-1 draw and eventually went to penalty kicks. Severna Park won after the Bulldogs failed to convert a single penalty kick.
"The past four years, I've felt that we were snake-bitten," said Casey, whose team has won five straight county and region titles. "That Arundel game, we hit the pole at least five times. Fallston, they had that penalty kick.
"This year, we just didn't step up. We had some fantastic individual efforts, but we didn't play good team ball. In this one, there was no bad luck: No poles, no penalty kicks that we missed, or penalty kicks that they made. That's why this one is tougher to take."
Parkville (14-2-1) took advantage of two Bowie (12-4-1) mistakes to score. The Knights' first goal was scored by a player who was not marked, and the second goal was scored after Bowie goalkeeper Christine Tudja bobbled the ball.
"In my opinion, it was not a 2-0 game," Casey said. "They took advantage of two very key opportunities, and that wins ballgames. Our keeper touched the ball maybe five or six times in the second half. We had some good opportunities, but their goalkeeper played well."
VanCoverden, a 5-foot-10 senior who played offensive stopper, was the Bulldogs' leading scorer with 15 goals and 12 assists.
Eleanor Roosevelt also had its season end with a loss in the Maryland 4A semifinals. Dulaney (15-1) of Baltimore County shut out the Raiders, 3-0, Friday night at Arundel High School.
It was the second year in a row that the Raiders (12-3-1) lost in the state semifinals--last year's team fell to eventual state champion Chesapeake.
"No one in our county thought that we'd finish higher than fourth," Coach George Kallas said. "We lost 14 seniors from last year's team, so we faced a rebuilding year. But we didn't lose in the county, and we went back to where we were last year."
The Raiders played well during the first 20 minutes but eventually ran out of gas. Dulaney scored its first goal in the final minute of the first half.
"We were tired," said Eleanor Roosevelt senior goalkeeper Robert Deleonibus, who recorded eight shutouts during the season. "Their first goal took us out. They scored that quick goal and we all got the feeling that it wasn't going to happen. After watching the team all year, I just knew it."
CAPTION: Parkville's Ashley Elmos, left, Bowie's Juliana Ocampos-Barry race for soccer ball.