Multicolored computer printouts are taped to a chalkboard in the back of Coach Bruce Henderson's Leonardtown High School classroom. On them are printed the goals that his boys' soccer team set for the season, serving both to remind and to hold accountable each player as he enters that room. Once a goal is met, its sheet is moved across the board.
Only a few placards remained after Leonardtown defeated Patuxent at home on Monday, 2-0, to clinch its second consecutive Southern Maryland Athletic Conference championship.
Junior Weston Sellmer and senior Ian Titus scored for the Raiders (13-0, 10-0 SMAC). The defense, anchored by senior goalkeeper Steve Mortiz, sophomore Tim Smith and seniors John Greely and Blake Roth, recorded its 10th consecutive shutout and has not been scored upon in more than 800 minutes.
"We've met almost all of [the goals]," Roth said. "[Winning the SMAC title] is a big accomplishment because last year was the first year we've ever won it, and now we are trying to keep it going, and next year hopefully the team will carry it on."
Sellmer gave Leonardtown the lead in the 13th minute when he scored a remarkable goal. Junior midfielder Danny Poe sent a free kick to the left edge of the penalty area, and senior midfielder Danny Johnson trapped and lofted the ball back into the middle. Sellmer struck the ball in midair and drove it into the net.
The Raiders got their second goal later in the first half when Titus broke free down the left side of the field. Alone with the goalkeeper, Titus struck the ball with the outside of his right foot, and his shot curled into the net, giving Leonardtown a 2-0 lead going into halftime.
Patuxent (8-4, 7-3) emerged from the break the more aggressive team, however. The Panthers created several chances on offense, but none materialized into a goal. Patuxent's defense held off Leonardtown's attack, which unleashed 12 shots in the first half but only four in the final 40 minutes.
"We played relatively well, especially in the second half," Patuxent Coach Paul Gray said. "Defensively, we made three or four marking mistakes where we left a guy wide open and the ball went right to him. You can't do that with a team of that caliber, and they finished beautifully. They made the most of their opportunities and we didn't."
Gray is hoping Patuxent can carry the momentum built in the second half against Leonardtown into the Maryland 3A South Region playoffs, which begin Tuesday. The Panthers earned a No. 2 seed, and will have a first-round bye. They will face the winner of a Thomas Stone-McDonough matchup in the quarterfinals next Thursday.
"We played a great second half -- that was some of the better soccer we've played," Gray said. "That second half really showed something to me, that we're ready to go into the playoffs because we didn't quit, and we didn't just let them have it."
Leonardtown earned the top seed in the region, has a first-round bye and is carrying momentum into the regional tournament. The Raiders will face either Chopticon or Great Mills in the quarterfinals, and hope to be able to move one of the few remaining color printouts, which has printed on it "regional championship."
"We feel very confident with our team, how we're clicking and jelling together," Roth said.
"We want to win regionals, and that is our goal right now because last year we lost in the finals to Northern at regionals. I think we'll do well if we play as a team."