Senior defender Cory Messerschmidt continued Paul VI Catholic's unlikely run through the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference boys' soccer tournament yesterday, scoring the only goal in the Panthers' 1-0 victory over St. John's in the semifinals at Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown.

Messerschmidt scored in the 60th minute, when a throw-in bounced to senior defender Brian Snell, who played the ball into the middle of the field. Messerschmidt one-timed the pass into the upper right corner of the net.

"Tonight we don't get to celebrate too much because we have to play tomorrow," Paul VI Catholic Coach Andrew Burk said. "They're excited and happy, but they're dealing with it pretty well. We have one more game left to play this season and it's a big one."

Paul VI Catholic (6-6) will host No. 8 Gonzaga in the championship game at 7 tonight. Gonzaga, which eliminated Carroll on Tuesday, beat Paul VI, 5-2, early in the season, but the Panthers won the second meeting, 2-1, on Oct. 4. The Panthers entered the tournament with a losing record, but upset No. 1 DeMatha in the quarterfinals.

The return of senior sweeper Robert Stoegbauer has helped spark the Panthers. Stoegbauer was born 90 percent deaf in his right ear, but had surgery to improve his hearing over the summer so he could apply to the Navy and Army. The surgery kept Stoegbauer out for much of the season, but his return to the lineup has strengthened the defense.

"It made a big difference having him back," Burk said. "He gives us a little bit of attitude back there."

Who Scored?

For the second straight season, St. Stephen's/St. Agnes finishes the season as the top-ranked field hockey team in the Washington area. However, this season ends on a much more positive note.

In the final of the Virginia Independent School State Tournament two weeks ago, St. Stephen's and Collegiate appeared to be headed for overtime when the Saints scored the game's only goal with one second to play to win the title.

Just one problem: No one has taken credit for the goal. "We have no idea who scored, it was a team goal," All-Met senior midfielder Kathleen Miller said. "We were so excited because we didn't want to go into overtime or strokes again."

In last year's final, Collegiate won the title on penalty strokes, handing the Saints their only loss.

Calvert, Howard Rule

Calvert and Howard County volleyball teams entered this season with a combined 27 Maryland state volleyball titles since 1988, and they continued their dominance at last week's state tournament. Top-ranked Glenelg, the Howard County champion, capped off the state's only undefeated season with a victory over Towson in the 2A championship match. No. 2 Patuxent (Calvert) and No. 10 Mount Hebron (Howard) faced off for the 3A title, with Patuxent winning in four games. Players and coaches from all three teams cited their intra-county competition as a major factor in their statewide success.

Special correspondent Dan Steinberg contributed to this report.