Patuxent boys' lacrosse coach Vic Goeller chuckled.

His team went 12-2 in the regular season, losing only to private schools Calverton and St. Mary's-Ryken. It won the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference for the second straight year. It finished the regular season with seven straight victories.

And its reward? A No. 2 seed in the Maryland 4A/3A East Region -- arguably the toughest in the state.

Patuxent, the SMAC's best team, going 10-0 in league play, will arguably have the most difficult road in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association playoffs. The 4A/3A East is composed primarily of teams from Anne Arundel County, which consistently has some of the best teams in the state. Among the teams in the region are top-seed Broadneck, which went undefeated in the regular season and ascended to the top spot in The Post's boys' lacrosse poll; Severna Park, the No. 4 seed, which has been to three of the last four Maryland 4A/3A championship games; and Annapolis, the No. 3 seed, which won last year's Maryland 3A/2A title before moving up in classification.

The Panthers, who secured a first-round bye, probably will face Chesapeake (7-7) in the second round. The Cougars, who play Glen Burnie (2-11) in the first round, upset Severna Park on Monday, 14-6.

"I was kind of happy when I looked at the draw and saw Chesapeake," Goeller said. "Then I saw they beat Severna Park by eight goals. Evidently they're a lot better than I thought. . . . In order for us to advance in the playoffs, we need to be at our best and [opponents] have to be off their game."

Because Patuxent will be a 2A school next year, the Panthers likely will be in Maryland's 3A/2A lacrosse playoffs in 2005.

"I wish we were in the 3A/2A this year," Goeller said. "I think we'd probably have a shot at winning the region."

With Annapolis moving up, the 3A/2A East is seemingly open. Leonardtown, according to several coaches, has as good a shot as any to win the region. The Raiders (10-5), who have won three straight since a loss to Patuxent, picked up the No. 2 seed in the region but got a tough draw. They face SMAC foe Northern in the region quarterfinals Saturday (both teams had first-round byes). The teams met twice during the regular season, with Leonardtown winning both games by three and two goals.

Baltimore City teams Poly, Stephen Decatur and City have the Nos. 1, 3 and 4 seeds, respectively, but coaches believe the top teams in the region are Leonardtown, Northern and No. 5 seed Northeast of Anne Arundel County. Leonardtown beat Northeast, 14-13, on April 3.

Paul Rudell and his Patuxent teammates face a tough road in the upcoming boys' lacrosse playoffs. Patuxent is the No. 2 seed in the 4A/3A East Region.