Today's Maryland sectional soccer playoffs feature a meeting of two teams that are first-round opponents for the third straight year; two opposing coaches who were college teammates, and a Montgomery County player who goes against his old Prince George's County school.

Sherwood (12-0), which has split its playoff series the last two years with Catoctin - both by 1-0 scores - hopes to win the rubber match behind the scoring of Eric Heller (27 goals) and a defense that has allowed eight goals all season. Game time is 8 p.m. at the Thurmont School.

A year ago, Churchill coach Henry Danver's squad lost to Glen Burnie, coached by Danver's former Frostburg soccer teammate, John German. Today Danver's coaching adversary is Laurel's Al Goldstein, also a former Frostburg teammate.

Churchill (9-3), which lost two late-season games before clinching its second straight District II AA title with a 6-0 win over Wheaton, throws a balanced scoring lineup against Laurel (10-2).

Laurel and Churchill square off at 1 p.m. at Wheaton High School, immediately followed by Bowie against Whitman in a AA double header.

Churchill's Joey Fuchs (11 goals) leads the Bulldog offense, but Laurel could have the answer in forward Tony Denikos (18 goals) and the Spartans' own slick ball-handler, Ray Vigliotti, who has 13 assists.

On defense, Laurel goalkeeper Pete Annis has recorded seven shutouts, while his Churchill counterpart, Steve Ertel, has allowed nine goals, discounting six penalty kicks.

Price George's County AA champion Bowie joined Sherwood in the unbeaten ranks, scoring 62 goals in 12 games under first-year coach Bob Smith. The Bulldogs' much-talked-about offense is paced by Steve Green, a 20-goal man, and a solid halfback line led by Bill Stackhouse.

Whitman (8-3-1) features a shifty passing attack behind halfback Doug Blunck and forward Jeff Nelson. Viking coach Sam DeBone hopes fullback Greg Wilson can help repel Bowie's charge.

Whitman halfback Gary Dwyer played with Bowie season. It will be the first on-field meeting for Dwyer and his former teammates.

Woodward defeated Thomas Johnson, 4-0, last fall en route to the state title, and survived several late-season injuries to take its second straight Montgomery crown. Forwards Mark Eichler and Mike Zambeto filled in well in substitute roles, as did goalie Jamie Gagnon.

With nine-goal scorers Bill Muldoon and Joe Travez recovered from leg injuries and Barry Gudelsky back for goal duty (rib cage tear), the Wildcats (10-2) should give a young Thomas Johnson squad (6-7) its toughest test at Woodward at 2:30 p.m.

Walter Johnson (8-3-1) coach Joe Grimaldi says the Spartans' confidence has been lifted after a come-from-behind 3-2 overtime win against Richard Montgomery Tuesday, and has prepared his squad for today's likely muddy conditions. Marcio Couto, who scored two goals against Richard Montgomery, heads the WJ attalk against visiting Thomas Stone at 2:30 p.m.

Central, which qualified for the state B playoffs last November, moved to the A League this year and won the Prince George's title with a 10-2 mark. John DeLoach's nin-goal, 13-assist mark should be an equal test for visiting Aberdeen (12-1), Game time is 2:30 p.m.

Tommy Tompros (16 goals) and Adrian Gomez (13) lead an aggressive Oxon Hill club against powerful Loch Raven (9-0) at Catonsville Community College at 3 p.m.