Defending Maryland 4A soccer champion Whitman, once on the verge of not qualifying for the playoffs, edged Churchill, 1-0, last night on a goal by Matt Ferry to claim the Region II championship.

The victory was the third straight for the Vikings, who needed a 1-0 win over Walter Johnson last Saturday to earn a berth in postseason play.

Last night's victory advanced No. 14 Whitman (10-4) to the state semifinals a week from today. Sixteenth-ranked Churchill closed the season at 9-5.

Ferry's goal, his 10th, came with just under four minutes gone in the second half off a throw-in by Peter Bowman.

The toss came from the left wing about five yards in front of the end line. Churchill goalkeeper Greg Kaufman came off the line and managed to get a hand on the ball in an effort to bat it away.

But the deflection went right to the 6-foot-3 Ferry, who made a chest trap, let the ball drop and booted it into the net from about eight yards.

"I saw him {Ferry} hang back," said Bowman. "So I just threw the ball longer."

Whitman temporarily kept its momentum after the goal, but its attack started to lose its edge 10 minutes later when Ferry, who roams between stopper and halfback positions, left the game clutching his right ankle. He did not return.

In the first 10 minutes after Ferry left the game, Churchill had two good scoring opportunities, but couldn't capitalize.

The first one came at the midpoint of the half off a corner kick by the Bulldogs' Mark Miles. Whitman managed to clear the ball on that occasion, but a defensive lapse moments later created a fine opportunity for Churchill to even the match.

With approximately 15 minutes remaining, Churchill's Serif Sisman managed to steal the ball from Whitman goalkeeper Dave Wagner, who had rushed out to collect an errant pass to the right of the goal mouth.

Sisman took a few dribbles and then sent a pass on the ground that crossed in front of the wide-open net. Unfortunately for Churchill, no one was there to finish.

Whitman's defensive unit dug in for the remainder of the game and kept Churchill from threatening again.

Both teams advanced to the regional final with upset wins Tuesday. The third-seeded Vikings defeated Walter Johnson, 3-2. Churchill got past top-seeded Bethesda-Chevy Chase by the same score in overtime.