After exploding for five goals in the second half of its win over Eleanor Roosevelt in the 4A South Region boys' soccer final last week, and scoring two second-half goals in a come-from-behind victory over Perry Hall in the Maryland 4A semifinals at Thomas Johnson on Monday, High Point has turned into a dangerous second-half team.
Perry Hall scored two goals in eight minutes and led 2-1 with 27 minutes 52 seconds remaining in the game.
High Point (14-1) responded with two quick goals of its own. Senior Ferrdy Calderon scored in the 52nd minute on a brilliant, bending shot to tie the game. Less than two minutes later, Daydrian Givans, who had several opportunities to score earlier in the game, scored the game-winner for High Point.
"We had a chance to put the game away in the first half, and we missed some opportunities," High Point Coach Ken Griffith said. "In the second half, we let up on defense twice there, had some breakdowns. But the kids hung in there, they didn't quit."
High Point, which lost to Perry Hall in the state semifinals last year and has never won a state title, will face No. 2 Churchill (9-2), winner of six state championships, in the state title game at UMBC today.
The two teams did not face each other in the regular season, though High Point's players were able to watch the second half of Churchill's 2-0 win over Old Mill before their game against Perry Hall.
"We've got some competition coming against us [today]," senior Jerry Thay said. "But if we play like we did [Monday], with as much as intensity as we did, then we'll pull out with the victory."
-- Colin Fitzgibbons
A First for Laurel Several good girls' soccer teams had come and gone at Laurel, yet none had ever won a region championship. But with an exceptional defensive performance against a strong Eleanor Roosevelt team at the 4A South Region final last Thursday, the Spartans played to a scoreless tie before winning, 4-2, in penalty kicks.
"This has been a long time coming, especially for the seniors, getting to the regional final and pulling out the win," Laurel Coach Terry Parfitt said. "It was good to see tears of laughter rather than tears of sadness. The girls played real hard."
Laurel (11-2-1) was scheduled to play host Perry Hall in a Maryland 4A semifinal last night in Anne Arundel County. No Prince George's County team has ever won a Maryland state title, and until last week no Laurel team had won a regional championship.
Eleanor Roosevelt was the region's top seed and had competed well against the area's best, finishing fourth at the elite McDonogh Invitational at the beginning of the season. But Laurel played the Raiders to a scoreless tie in the regular season.
In the region final, Jasmine Sterling led the defense, while junior goalkeeper Ashley Pezheshkian made several strong saves.
In the shootout, Andi Perkinson, April Atkinson, Alicia Willey and Ariana Thomas scored for Laurel. Parfitt, who will retire at the end of the season after nine years as the Spartans' girls' coach, saw his career extended by at least one game.
"We did have some good chances to score," Parfitt said. "But we knew we were good defensively. If we could get to the shootout, we could win."
-- Sean P. Flynn
Young Bulldogs to Semifinals With her team trailing Oxon Hill by eight points in the second game of last Friday's 4A South Region volleyball final, first-year Bowie coach Jen Buter called a timeout and told the Bulldogs to hang on for one more side-out.
"I said, 'The next rotation we have is the one that works for us -- we need to stop this right now,' " Buter recalled.
On the next rally, sophomore Kim Dormer earned a side-out with a kill at the net. Then, with Dormer serving, the Bulldogs rattled off six straight points on their strongest rotation and went on to win the game, the match and the region title. Bowie's 15-5, 16-14, 13-15, 15-7 victory over Oxon Hill gave the Bulldogs their eighth region title in the last nine years and a berth in the state semifinals.
"That definitely proves why I love that rotation," said Buter, a 1996 Bowie graduate and two-year starter. "As long as [Dormer's] serves are on, nobody's stopping us in that rotation."
The win capped a tremendous late-season surge; after an 0-4 start, Bowie entered Tuesday's state semifinal against Perry Hall with 12 straight wins. Tuesday's match ended too late for this edition.
The Bulldogs have been winning with a young lineup: Their 11-player roster includes six sophomores and only four players from last year's Prince George's 4A league championship team. Senior Stephanie Critchfield, an outside hitter since she started playing volleyball 10 years ago, has been pressed into setting duties, and the Bulldogs' main offensive weapons are sophomores.
"At the beginning there wasn't as much strength as there had been the past few seasons, but it gradually progressed during the season," said Critchfield, who leads the team in aces and assists. "But I never stopped playing or stopped trying to get as far as we did the other years because of our inexperience."
Bowie's four losses all came against out-of-county opposition, including three schools that are ranked in The Post's top pen.
"It was kind of good for our experience; the new people saw what tough volleyball was going to be like," said sophomore outside hitter Kristin Buter, Jen Buter's younger sister, who leads the team in kills. "Everyone improved a lot in the first two weeks."
-- Dan Steinberg
Raiders' Anyanwu Takes 11th The way Eleanor Roosevelt senior Crystal Anyanwu ended her cross-country career, she should hit the ground running for the indoor track season.
The senior finished 11th in Saturday's Maryland 4A championships at Hereford High, using her middle-distance track experience to cover the last 800 meters as if it were a separate event. A year after slowing to a walk on the hills and placing 34th, Anyanwu clocked 20 minutes 54 seconds on the daunting five-kilometer course.
"She's been so dedicated this year -- she really rose to the challenge," Raiders Coach Dayle Robertson said. "She's a dominant athlete -- I told her when she had 800 meters left -- and she beat all the girls who give her trouble in the 800.
"That's the good thing about coaching track kids -- when you tell them to get out in front in a race, they do it."
Anyanwu may have performed even better if she hadn't lost nearly a month of critical hill training during the sniper attacks, Robertson said.
"She was third or fourth going down the first hill. I just wish we'd had another month to train on the hill we have by the school. The kids had to adjust their goals [because of the layoff], and that's tough for kids to do."
Although Anyanwu's track achievements may overshadow her cross-country exploits, Robertson said she left her mark on the distance program.
"She became such a good team leader, and she makes everyone run better. She beats the boys, and the girls kept saying, 'We just have to see Crystal.' Then they gradually worked on catching up to her."
-- Kynan W. Kelly