With a win tomorrow against Patuxent or a win at Great Mills on Wednesday, Leonardtown can clinch its second consecutive Southern Maryland Athletic Conference title.
The Raiders (12-0, 8-0 SMAC) have not been scored upon in more than a month -- a span of nine games -- and have surrendered only three goals all season.
"We're pretty psyched about having the opportunity to clinch at home," Leonardtown Coach Bruce Henderson said. "We knew the game was going to be really big, and it's still going to be a big game."
Leonardtown defeated St. Mary's-Annapolis, 1-0, on Friday, stretching the shutout streak to 720 minutes. But with two tough conference games and the regional playoffs looming, it is almost inevitable that a shot will slip into the Raiders' goal.
"I'm hoping that they're going to be conditioned enough and be able to adapt and accept that someone scored on them," Henderson said. "You know sooner or later that someone's going to score on you. The odds are stacked against us of finishing the regular season without anybody scoring."
Seniors Chad Johnson and Blake Roth have led the Raiders' romp through the regular season. Johnson scored against St. Mary's Ryken and Chopticon to boost his team-leading total to 13. Roth has anchored the defense, which in addition to its shutout performances has accounted for six goals this season. But after a disappointing loss to Northern in last year's Maryland 3A South Region finals, the Raiders are hoping to sustain this season's success in the playoffs.
"We've been in the playoffs before, and it didn't turn out how we wanted it to," Henderson said. "There were some lessons learned, which we applied to this season. Motivation isn't an issue. They know what they need to do to accomplish the goals they set for the season."
Northern Beats Patuxent for Calvert Cup Northern defeated Patuxent, 3-1, on Oct. 4 to claim the Calvert County Cup, which the Panthers had won each of the past two years. The Patriots have a slim chance at the SMAC title as well, if Patuxent defeats Leonardtown and the Raiders lose again on Wednesday, but for now they are celebrating their possession of the silver cup.
"The last two years they've won it, when we probably should have," Northern Coach Jaime Webster said. "They have a strong team this year, so it was nice for the kids to get it."
Northern (10-3, 8-2) has won six consecutive games.
"We just want to finish strong in the SMAC and make a run in the playoffs, like we did last year," Webster said. "We just went game by game, got on a roll and made it to states. We're headed in about the same direction."
Panthers Hoping to Overcome the Past Last season Patuxent led Leonardtown, 3-1, at halftime before allowing two second-half goals and losing to the Raiders, 4-3 in overtime. Though Patuxent Coach Paul Gray said he will try not to mention that game in preparation for this year's match, the memories linger.
"We still have a bitter taste in our mouths from that one," Gray said. "That was a great game, but that was last year and it's over."
"It's good to be playing a good team going into the playoffs," Gray said. "It's good to see where you stand. We have to play well going into the playoffs. We need to go in on a high note, whether we win or lose, we need to play well."