While the rest of the field hockey teams in Southern Maryland begin their quest for a state tournament spot Thursday, Calvert's team doesn't mind having to wait.

Thanks to a 10-1 record and a late-season loss by Glenelg of Howard County, the Cavaliers were awarded the top seed and a bye that automatically puts them in the Maryland 2A South region's semifinals.

"I think it's a good thing; it gives us more practice time," said Calvert Coach Bridget LoJacono, whose team had to play six games over the final two weeks of the regular season. "It's one less team we have to play. . . . Some teams come out and play the best game they've ever played in their life that day. You make one mistake, and it can cost you."

Calvert reached the state 3A semifinals last year before falling to eventual state champion Severna Park.

Calvert and the two other Southern Maryland Athletic Conference schools with regional top seeds -- SMAC champion Patuxent (4A East) and La Plata (3A South) should benefit from a format change that gives the higher-seeded team home-field advantage in each round. Should seeds hold, the change potentially saves Calvert a 73-mile trip to second-seeded Glenelg.

"That long ride really wears you down. You get tired and sluggish," said LoJacono, recalling last year's trip to Howard County to play the state semifinals. "For us, playing at home is great."

-- Ashton Williams