4A Boys

Who: Old Mill vs. Sherwood

When: Today, 5 p.m.

Where: University of Maryland-Baltimore County

The Scoop: At the beginning of the season, Old Mill Coach Jeff Martin never imagined his team would make it this far. The Patriots had lost nine seniors from a team that advanced to the 2003 state final before losing, 1-0, to Kenwood.

"I don't want to say that I thought this would be a rebuilding year," Martin said, "but I certainly never imagined this."

Players who rarely contributed last season morphed into stars: Center midfielder Andrew Engel has eight goals and five assists; Andrew Bulls, a freshman, is the team's leading scorer with eight goals and eight assists.

But Old Mill has thrived this year because of stick-to-itiveness, not skill. Take the Patriots' 2-1 semifinal win over Thomas Johnson. In a game that Thomas Johnson sometimes dominated, Old Mill won thanks to a headed goal from senior Alex Buchholz with about 11 minutes left.

"We're definitely not flashy," Martin said. "But the great thing about this team is that we always find a way to win."

4A Girls

Who: South River vs. Whitman

When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.

Where: University of Maryland-Baltimore County

The Scoop: It took South River three years to master the state semifinal game, and it will need to figure out the state championship more quickly. On Saturday, the Seahawks dominated Westminster, 3-1, ending a two-year streak of heartbreaking semifinal losses.

Some doubted South River would break through this season. The team starts a freshman goalkeeper, Daniella Estill, who has played well. It has also traveled a tenuous road to the state final, needing penalty kicks to beat Broadneck in the 4A East final.

The Seahawks rely on a quartet of forwards capable of scoring in bunches: Kristen Doyle, Ali Moreland, Lea Erculiani and Rachel Fry have all scored at least four goals this season.

3A Boys

Who: Severna Park vs. River Hill

When: Friday, 5 p.m.

Where: University of Maryland-Baltimore County

The Scoop: The Falcons talk about winning the state title like it's their destiny and, judging by their semifinal win, they might be on to something. With less than a minute left in overtime, Joey Maruggi scored against Bethesda-Chevy Chase to give the Falcons a 1-0 victory. Fifty-one seconds later, the game would have been decided by penalty kicks.

Severna Park's success is based on balance. Five Falcons have scored more than five goals this season, led by Taylor Young (13 goals, 9 assists) and senior Greg Fenton (11 goals, 9 assists). Goalie Kyle Quigley usually makes sure the Falcons' productive offense translates into wins. The junior goalie has made 132 saves this season, and he's posted seven shutouts.

"Everybody gets in on the action," Young said. "We know that to win, we need to do everything as a team. And we're meant to win this thing."

The question is, will destiny be a strong enough force against River Hill, a team that has won the last two state titles?

Clockwise from top: Mike Murphy (15) of Severna Park takes a shot against Bethesda-Chevy Chase; Joey Maruggi, who later scored the winning goal, speeds past a B-CC defender; and Taylor Young (23) dribbles the ball.