Maryland 3A Boys
Who: No. 3 River Hill (14-1-1) vs. Severna Park (14-4-1).
Kickoff: 5 p.m. tomorrow, University of Maryland Baltimore County.
How River Hill Got Here: The Hawks defeated Wilde Lake, Mount Hebron and Centennial by a collective score of 4-1, then posted a 1-0 win over previously undefeated Fallston (18-1) on Saturday.
How Severna Park Got Here: The Falcons shut out La Plata, Chopticon and Northern before posting a 1-0 overtime victory over top-ranked Bethesda-Chevy Chase on Saturday.
History: The Hawks have won five state titles and want to become the first team to win three consecutive 3A state titles. The Hawks are 5-1 in state finals, their only loss in 1996, to Williamsport, 2-1, in the 1A championship game. Severna Park is 2-7 in state finals, sharing a AA title with Bowie in 1983 and earning the 2001 title with a 2-1 victory over Dulaney.
Outlook: Severna Park has outscored opponents 57-17 and has five players with at least five goals this season -- led by junior forward Taylor Young (13 goals, 9 assists) and senior forward Greg Fenton (11 goals, 9 assists). The Falcons have posted seven shutouts behind the solid play of junior goalie Kyle Quigley (132 saves).
"Everyone on our team has confidence in each other, and that's huge because every game you play in the playoffs keeps getting bigger and bigger," said junior midfielder Steve Malm, who assisted on senior Joey Maruggi's game-winning goal with 51 seconds remaining against Bethesda-Chevy Chase.
River Hill's offense hinges on its ability to score off Matt Stara's long throw-ins. The junior defender's tosses into the goal mouth have assisted on 19 goals, but the team's biggest strength has been defense. The Hawks were the first team this season to shut out Fallston, the second-ranked team in the Baltimore area that had outscored its opponents 63-3.
River Hill, led by senior sweeper Antonio Almario, Stara and junior goalie Matt Moss, has 10 shutouts and has allowed just nine goals in 16 games.
"I thought the way we played against Fallston was the most disciplined soccer we've played this season," said River Hill Coach Bill Stara, Matt's father. "I think Severna Park is just as talented as Fallston, so we're going to need the same type of effort.
Maryland 3A Girls
Who: No. 7 Centennial (13-1-1) vs. No. 5 Bethesda-Chevy Chase (14-1-1).
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, University of Maryland Baltimore County.
How Centennial Got Here: The Eagles were 9-1-1 in the regular season to win their first county title since 1998. Centennial defeated Mount Hebron (3-2), River Hill (1-0) and C.M. Wright (3-0) in the playoffs.
How Bethesda-Chevy Chase Got Here: The Barons won the Montgomery County 3A/2A/1A league. In the playoffs, B-CC outscored Linganore and North Carroll, 12-0, ousted Urbana in penalty kicks, 4-3, after playing to a scoreless tie and dominated Severna Park, 4-1, in the semifinals.
History: Centennial is vying for a Maryland public-school-record seventh state title in its first state final appearance since sharing the 2A title with Bethesda-Chevy Chase in 2001. The teams played to a scoreless draw after 100 minutes; penalty kicks are not used in final matches. The Barons are in the state final for the second time in three years; they lost to Severna Park in the 3A championship game in 2002.
Outlook: Centennial, led by senior forward Mandy Paizs (12 goals, 5 assists) and All-Met senior midfielder Hayley Siegel (5 goals, 8 assists) has scored 42 goals. Junior goalie Caitlin Burr has allowed just eight goals and has nine shutouts.
"I think right now everything is clicking for us and everyone on our team is playing well," said Goldberg, who has six goals and five assists. "That's the way we have to play if we want to beat B-CC to win the state title."
Bethesda-Chevy Chase relies on a physical style of play and showed its muscle against Severna Park in the semifinal. The Barons, led by senior midfielders Natasha Mann (15 goals, 9 assists) and All-Met Emily Forline (5 goals, 9 assists), have outscored opponents 64-6.
"We like to give people a lick," Coach Robert Kurtz said. "That's our style, and it's a big part of why we've gotten this far."
Maryland 2A Boys
Who: Atholton (14-4-1) vs. Eastern Tech (16-3)
Kickoff: Noon Saturday, University of Maryland Baltimore County.
How Atholton Got Here: The Raiders shut out Southern, Hammond, Calvert and Glenelg -- all on the road -- to win the 2A South Region tournament for the second consecutive season. The Raiders fell behind Liberty by a goal early in the semifinal before rallying for a 3-1 win on goals by Jonathan Beltran, Tim Breen and Andrew Chandler.
How Eastern Tech Got Here: The Mavericks posted victories over Owings Mills, Pikesville and Hereford to claim the region title. Bernie Curley and Joe Eckloff scored in a 2-1 victory over Parkside in the state semifinals.
History: Atholton is making its second appearance in a state final, winning the 2A title in 1990. The Raiders lost, 1-0, to Parkside in the semifinals last season, giving up the decisive goal with six minutes remaining in overtime. Baltimore County champion Eastern Tech is playing in its first state final; it lost in the semifinals to Stephen Decatur last season.
Outlook: Atholton enters the final on a 12-game unbeaten streak and has allowed just one goal in its past seven games. Winston Jackson (12 goals, 2 assists), Scott DeFrances (6 goals, 5 assists), Breen (7 goals, 7 assists) and Chandler (4 goals, 7 assists) have accounted for 29 of the team's 38 goals. Senior goalie Austin McAfee has backed a defense that has posted 12 shutouts and has allowed 15 goals.
"I think we're finally playing well for a whole game; before we'd play well for one half but never put that complete game together," Atholton Coach Roch DeFrances said. "It seems now we keep getting better and better."
Eastern Tech has posted seven consecutive victories and is coming off its third Baltimore County title in four years. The Mavericks have posted 11 shutouts and have scored more than 60 goals this season, led by midfielders Andrew Tyner, Lee Diegel and Curley.
"The biggest thing about Eastern Tech is that they are the biggest team physically we are going to play this year, and we have trouble against big teams because we're not that big," DeFrances said.
-- JON GALLO