Early last week, Churchill boys soccer coach Dave Kelley was uncertain his team would get to play nationally ranked Archbishop Curley of Baltimore because of the inclement weather resulting from Hurricane Floyd. After the Friars defeated then-No. 2 DeMatha, 4-1, last Monday, playing Curley looked like an unattractive as well as unlikely assignment.

But the weather cleared and the teams played Saturday; Churchill (3-0) prevailed, 2-1, behind two goals from midfielder Watson Prather. The Potomac school's defense was led by goalkeeper Adam Grossman (six saves), central defender Jeremy Manela and fullback Bryson Keenan.

"This was a huge confidence boost for our kids," Kelley said. Curley "beat up on DeMatha pretty good, and we know DeMatha has a really good team. Our kids gave an outstanding team effort and Prather's goals were an absolute joy. It was a great way to get the year going." . . .

Gwynn Park twice held one-goal leads against No. 4 Thomas Stone before losing to the Cougars, 3-2, last Saturday.

A rough week for Gwynn Park is only halfway complete: The Yellow Jackets face defending 1A champion and No. 7 Oakland Mills today. Gwynn Park (1-2-1) is led by DeMatha transfer Marcus Washington, who has a team-high three goals, and midfielder Tony Oby, who has three assists this season after leading the team with seven last year.

Plucky Panthers

No. 8 Paul VI Catholic lost two starters to injury before the season--senior midfielders Anne Kashnikow and Rachel Shafer. If those problems were supposed to slow the Panthers, however, someone forgot to tell them.

Behind the senior leadership of goalkeeper Pride Kirven, midfielder Erin Hutnick and defender Maureen Flynn, Paul VI (5-0) continued its strong play last weekend at the Tennessee Challenge Cup. The Panthers played three Tennessee teams, earning a 7-0 win over Centennial and a 2-1 victory over Farragut. They lost to the state's No. 1 team, Germantown, 4-1, in the round-robin invitational.

Kashnikow was hurt playing for her club team early this month. She partially tore the medial collateral ligament but should be back by midseason. Shafer is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery in June.

"Even with the injuries, we have only five seniors," Ashley said. "There are a lot of young players and they all gel pretty well."

The 81st Minute

Pivotal performances on the soccer fields from the past week:

BOYS

Adam Grossman

Churchill, Sr., goalkeeper

Grossman played what Coach Dave Kelley said was probably his best game of the season despite giving up his only goal of the season Saturday in a 2-1 victory over nationally ranked Archbishop Curley of Baltimore. Grossman finished with six saves to lead the Bulldogs (3-0). "Even though Adam did not have a lot of saves, he definitely had some big ones. They could have had three or four goals if not for Adam. He gave us a huge shot in the arm," Kelley said.

Ralph Lee

Sidwell Friends, Sr., forward

Lee, the only junior on the first team all-Interstate Athletic Conference team last year, has a goal in each of the Northwest private school's first four victories this season. "Ralph is a tremendous player," said first-year coach Tunji Akiwowo, a former all-American at Wisconsin. "I am fortunate to have someone like him."

Garrett Slaughter

Landon, Sr., defender

He was scoreless Saturday in a 2-1 win over Wilson, but Coach Bill Reed singled out his stellar play on offense and defense. Slaughter "marked some of Wilson's best players and gave up little; he also started much of our offense with his distribution," Reed said. "He had an excellent game."

GIRLS

Meggie Curran

Good Counsel, Soph., forward

Has scored five goals in her last two games, including two against then-No. 2 Wootton in a 3-1 win Saturday in Wootton Invitational. She has nine goals and five assists at left forward this season.

Jen Wright

River Hill, Jr., goalkeeper

Wright registered three big saves late in second half Saturday as the Hawks held off St. Mary's-Annapolis, 1-0, in championship game of Pioneer Shootout Championship at Anne Arundel Community College.

Jenny Winston

Walter Johnson, Sr., midfielder

Converted a penalty kick in overtime to defeat Whitman, 2-1, Saturday to win consolation game of Kickoff Classic at Severna Park.