Sunday, November 25, 2007

Girls' Soccer

Howard Teams Rake In the State Titles
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, November 22, 2007; HO10

With River Hill's 2-1 double-overtime victory over Eastern Tech and Glenelg's 2-0 victory over Sparrows Point, Howard County has claimed 14 of 43 state titles since 1997.

That's the most by any county in that time.

River Hill (18-1-1) and Glenelg (12-6-1) have combined for 11 of those titles.

"Howard County, I think, has some of the stronger high school teams," said Glenelg senior forward Emily Horwath, whose sixth goal of the season gave the Gladiators their second straight title and fifth since 1997. "There's a lot of girls coming over from the club teams and freshmen and sophomores moving up, so there's still going to be good soccer."

Glenelg (12-6-1), which has been in six state finals in 11 seasons, demonstrated how Howard teams always seem to reload.

The Gladiators graduated 10 seniors, including eight starters, from last season's state title winning team, which went 11-5-3 and finished ranked seventh.

After dropping five of its first eight games, Glenelg won 10 of its final 11 before claiming the title Saturday.
"This is an entirely new group of girls," Glenelg Coach Dean Sheridan said. "At the beginning of the season, I thought we'd go 4-10, but I knew we'd win the state title."

After going 20-0 in winning last season's 3A title, River Hill (18-1-1) dropped to the 2A division, where it was dominant, outscoring its opponents, 70-16.

Senior forward Erica Suter (19 goals) headed in Brittany Yancey's corner kick in the third minute of the second overtime to give River Hill its sixth state title since 1997.

"Honestly, I feel like we could have won the 3A title this year," said Suter, whose team defeated 3A champion Urbana, 3-0, in September.

River Hill also defeated 1A champion Glenelg (12-6-1) and last season's 4A winner Leonardtown (14-3) this season.

But perhaps it was Wilde Lake's 3-2 shootout loss to Urbana in Thursday's 3A final that exemplified the county's soccer strength.

Without three of its starters, including senior forward Katie Leffner (10 goals), Wilde Lake (16-5) relied on goals from Caitlin Duff and Faryn Watts to play 3A power Urbana (12-3-1) to a 2-2 tie before losing in the shootout.

"Howard County is a nightmare," Urbana Coach Chuck Nichols said. "There's a lot of good teams coming out of Howard County."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Girls' Soccer

Howard County Shows Its Mettle
Wednesday, November 21, 2007; E07

With three representatives in four state title games, Howard County had another dominant showing in girls' soccer this season.

With River Hill's 2-1 double-overtime victory over Eastern Tech and Glenelg's 2-0 victory over Sparrows Point, Howard County has claimed 14 of 43 state titles since 1997 -- the most by any county over that span.

Second-ranked River Hill (18-1-1) and ninth-ranked Glenelg (12-6-1), which each won back-to-back titles, have combined for 11 titles in the last decade.

But perhaps it was Wilde Lake (16-5) -- which fell to Urbana, 3-2, in the 3A title game -- that proved just how strong Howard County girls' soccer was this season.

Without three starters, including Katie Leffner (10 goals), Wilde Lake took 3A power Urbana (12-3-1) to the brink in a 2-2 tie before losing in a penalty-kick shootout.

"Howard County is a nightmare," Urbana Coach Chuck Nichols said.

-- B.J. Koubaroulis

Girls' Soccer, Final Rankings

Pallotti rejoins the rankings for the first time since late September after defeating McDonogh (Baltimore) to win the program's first IAAM A Conference title. Pallotti scored 1-0 wins against Institute of Notre Dame, John Carroll and McDonogh -- all teams that beat Pallotti during the regular season.

Ranks, Team, Record, Last Week

1. St. John's (D.C.) (21-2-2) 1

2. River Hill (18-1-1) 4

3. Pallotti (12-5-2) NR

4. Quince Orchard (17-2) NR

5. O'Connell (17-4-2) 3

6. Urbana (12-3-1) 10

7. Spalding (18-2-1) 2

8. Potomac School (11-3-2) NR

9. Glenelg (12-6-1) NR

10. Bethesda-CC (14-1) 5

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Girls' Soccer

In Final, Glenelg Plays for Keeper
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, November 18, 2007; D14

The sight of senior goalkeeper Kerry Krammer being strapped to a stretcher and wheeled into an ambulance during Glenelg's 2-0 victory over Sparrows Point in last night's Maryland 1A girls' soccer final at Broadneck didn't break the spirit of her Gladiators teammates.

"After something like that, a team can lose their wind and lose their focus," Glenelg Coach Dean Sheridan said.

Instead, the Gladiators were inspired by Krammer, who suffered a concussion in a collision with a Sparrows Point player in the game's 36th minute.

Before the 25-minute second-half injury stoppage, during which emergency medical technicians tended to Krammer, the Gladiators' high-powered offense had failed to convert on six shots on goal, one corner kick chance and seven free kicks.

Three minutes after the ambulance carrying Krammer left for Anne Arundel Medical Center, Glenelg (12-6-1) scored on its first shot on goal of the second half to help capture its second consecutive state title and fifth since 1997.

"Our intensity picked up a lot after that," said senior forward Emily Horwath, who had a goal and an assist in the win. "It was really scary to watch your teammate go through something like that. All she kept saying was, 'Guys please win this for me, win this for me.' "

Sparrows Point ended up 14-5 and Glenelg pushed its win streak to nine, finishing a season that, at first, looked as if it would be a rebuilding one.

Glenelg lost 10 seniors and eight starters from last year's state title-winning team, which posted an 11-5-3 record and finished ranked seventh by The Post.

It dropped five of its first eight games this season before winning 10 of its final 11, including a five-game postseason run in which the Gladiators outscored their opponents, 28-2.

Glenelg 2, Sparrows Point 0 Gladiators' Quest: The Gladiators played a rigorous schedule that included losses to No. 4 River Hill and Maryland private school powers John Carroll and second-ranked Spalding. Markwordt's Mark: Alayna Markwordt, an Ohio State-bound lacrosse player who transferred to Glenelg from top-ranked St. John's, had 15 goals and three assists this season, including one in the final minute last night.

Girls' Soccer

River Hill Collects Another Crown
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, November 18, 2007; D14

Erica Suter headed in Brittany Yancey's corner kick in the third minute of the second overtime to lift River Hill to a victory over Eastern Tech in last night's 2A state final at Broadneck, giving the Hawks their second consecutive state title and sixth since 1997.

"I knew it was a better corner kick than the ones I'd taken earlier because it was higher and it was farther," Yancey said of her 30-yard right-footed offering that Suter buried with a lunging header near the left post.

Yancey touched in Amy Song's 35-yard throw-in for a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute, marking the 13th time this season that fourth-ranked River Hill (18-1-1) had scored on a throw-in by the 5-foot-7 junior defender.

Eastern Tech junior forward Brittany Rhodes tied it at 1 in the 65th minute on a right-footed blast from 15 yards before Suter connected on the game-winner -- her 19th goal of the season.
Eastern Tech dropped to 13-3-1.

"I'm so glad we won because I think we deserved it," Suter said. "It didn't matter who scored, I just wanted to win a state championship as a senior."

River Hill followed last season's 20-0 run to the 3A state title with a dominant showing in Maryland's 2A classification, where it outscored its opponents, 70-16.

To remain battle-tested, River Hill relied on a brutal out-of-conference schedule, in which it defeated 10th-ranked 3A state champion Urbana (12-3-1), last season's 4A champion Leonardtown (14-3) and Glenelg (12-6-1), which captured its second consecutive 1A title last night.

"Honestly, I feel like we could have won the 3A title this year," Suter said.

The Hawks shut out nine opponents and outscored their five playoff opponents, 14-5.

River Hill 2 Eastern Tech 1 Suter's Season: River Hill senior Erica Suter finished the season with 19 goals and six assists. Howard's End: Howard County had a team in three of the state's four title games. River Hill and Glenelg captured titles and Wilde Lake dropped a shootout to Urbana in Thursday's 3A final.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Girls' Soccer

Mohns and Urbana Hold Their Nerve, Win a Title
Injured Player Hits Crucial Penalty Kick in Shootout
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, November 16, 2007; E06

Urbana senior Kelly Mohns limped to the circle of her celebrating teammates.

She was late to her own celebration -- one she started with her right-footed game-winning penalty kick that gave Urbana a 3-2 victory over Wilde Lake in an overtime shootout in last night's 3A state final at Broadneck.

It was Urbana's first state title.

"I take a lot of [penalty kicks] in practice to make sure that I make them in moments like these," said Mohns, who injured her right knee in the first half. "I tell myself that it's just like practice."

And No. 10 Urbana has had plenty of practice in penalty kick shootouts -- it won three of its five postseason games in such fashion.

In its run to the title, Urbana defeated teams with a combined 56-21-2 record, including shootout wins over Tuscarora and fifth-ranked Bethesda-Chevy Chase. Those teams have combined for four state titles since 2001.

"This group, somehow, just kept finding a way," Urbana Coach Chuck Nichols said. "Winning one overtime shootout game is unique, winning three in a postseason is . . . I don't know?"

Urbana scored just 24 goals this season but gave up only 16 en route to a 12-3-1 finish.
Wilde Lake finished 16-5.

"We do not have a high-powered offense, but we possess the ball well," Nichols said. "It's not been pretty, but all year we've been finding a way to win."

Urbana junior midfielder Julia Roberts scored two goals -- her sixth and seventh goals of the postseason -- and connected on the Hawks' first penalty kick to set the tone for a shootout in which four of five Hawks converted their shots.

"I don't care who scores as long as they get it done," said Roberts, a member of the under-16 national team. "Coach told us, especially in the playoffs, to 'shoot, shoot, shoot.' "

Urbana outshot Wilde Lake 15-9.

Roberts intercepted a Wilde Lake free kick, settled it off her chest and delivered a 35-yard boot to the top right corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute.

Wilde Lake junior midfielder Caitlin Duff tied the game in the 57th minute when she slipped a right-footed free kick under the crossbar and, 10 minutes later, the Wildecats took a 2-1 lead on an 18-yard shot from junior forward Faryn Watts (14 goals).

Roberts answered 30 seconds later by burying a 25-yard free kick that tied it at 2.

No. 10 Urbana 3, Wilde Lake 2

Procida Steps Down: After five years as the Wildecats head coach, Dave Procida announced yesterday that he will not return next season. "What I'll remember most about this team is their resilience," Procida said.

Koplow's Stops: Wilde Lake junior goalkeeper Grace Koplow had 12 saves, including a diving stop in the shootout.

Girls' Soccer

Quince Orchard Completes Its Championship Quest
Cougars Defeat C.M. Wright in Penalty-Kick Shootout
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, November 16, 2007; E07

After a 1-0 loss to Leonardtown in last season's 4A state final, the Quince Orchard girls' soccer team talked all season about redemption.

The Cougars took a businesslike approach to the season, methodically winning 16 of 18 games entering last night's state final against C.M. Wright.

There was a muffled and uninspired celebration following the team's 4A West Region title victory, and the state semifinal win over Eleanor Roosevelt brought only a few smiles.

But last night's 1-0 win over C.M. Wright in a penalty-kick shootout finally brought the Cougars the release they'd been seeking for a full year. The emotions swelled, with several players in tears and others participating in a euphoric group jumping session.

"We've redeemed ourselves," said junior goalkeeper Amanda Whitney, who made two saves in the shootout to give the Cougars (17-2) their first state title since 2002.

The Cougars' march to a state title was a dominant one. They averaged 3.1 goals a game, allowed only 20 goals and shut out five opponents.

"It was all about getting back to the states this year," Quince Orchard coach Peg Keiller said. "They wanted to show that we are a better team than we showed last year."
C.M. Wright dropped to 13-5-1.

Senior defender Maureen McMeekin delivered the decisive goal of the shootout on a right-footed penalty shot to the top left corner of the goal.

"We haven't been working since preseason, we've been working since we lost that game last year," McMeekin said. "Every game was just another game to us until we got here."

After failing to connect on 13 shots during regulation and two overtimes, Quince Orchard buried three of its five penalty kicks and Whitney made two saves to help the Cougars past the Mustangs, 3-2, in the shootout.

Quince Orchard's Kayla Clarke and Emily D'Italia also connected on their penalty shots.
"I'm happy for Maureen McMeekin because she moved from midfield and selflessly went to defense after having scored a lot of goals for us," Keiller said.

McMeekin, who missed a penalty kick in a shootout loss two seasons ago, "never wanted to feel that way again," she said. "I never wanted to feel like I did when we lost states last year. I felt like we totally deserved this."

Sophomore forward Ele Margelos sent the Cougars' best chance screaming toward the goal in the fourth minute of the first overtime, but Mustangs goalkeeper Allison Kuchar made a diving save to keep the game scoreless.

Quince Orchard 1, C.M. Wright 0

Dominance: Since 1999, Quince Orchard has posted an 83-15-22 record en route to three division titles, two region titles and two state titles.

Ariel's Time: Cougars senior forward Ariel Nehemiah finished the season with 15 goals, six of them game-winners.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Girls' Soccer

River Hill Making A New Statement
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, November 11, 2007; D07

Still catching her breath following a 4-1 victory over Century in last night's 2A state semifinal at South River, River Hill senior forward Janie Tankard was flustered as she tried to control a swell of mixed emotions.

Cupping her hands over her eyes, Tankard -- who scored two goals to push River Hill into a meeting with Eastern Tech in next Saturday's 2A state final at Broadneck -- tried to explain herself.

"I'm like all over the place right now," Tankard said. "I feel like this whole season, everyone has compared it to last year and how great last year was. And last year was great, but I feel like, finally, we are setting our own statement this year, with this team."

Fourth-ranked River Hill went 20-0 in winning last season's 3A state title, but has since dropped to the 2A division, where it has just one loss and has outscored its opponents, 68-15.

"This team is also capable of great things," said Tankard, who has 15 goals and five assists this season and, as a three-year starter, has helped the Hawks to a 52-4-1 record.

River Hill (17-1-1) will be looking to capture its second straight state title and sixth this decade against Eastern Tech (13-2-1), which scored a 1-0 victory over previously undefeated Parkside (16-1) in last night's other semifinal.

"We got rid of old rivalries and teams that we knew, so, now we have to bring the intensity no matter what because we are not as familiar with them," said Tankard of Eastern Tech.

Tankard controlled junior midfielder Kathryn Rodgers's through pass and dumped two defenders before scoring on a sliding left-footed shot from 20 yards for a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute.

River Hill sophomore midfielder Anna Kim scored in the 46th minute and three minutes later sent a right-footed cross that Tankard finished from 15 yards for a 3-0 lead.

Century junior forward Lauren Resutek scored in the 57th minute on a left-footed shot to the upper right corner before Kim scored her second goal of the game and sixth of the season on a shot that deflected off of a Century player and rolled into the goal in the 76th minute.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Girls' Soccer

Roberts, Urbana Go Slip-Sliding to Final

Wilde Lake Will Be Thursday's Foe
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, November 10, 2007; E08

In the 80th minute of Urbana's 1-0 victory over Northern in last night's 3A state semifinal at Tuscarora, junior midfielder Julia Roberts slid as she punted away Northern's last scoring opportunity.

Roberts -- smeared in mud during the slide -- finally could empathize with a group of mud-covered Northern defenders, who'd slipped and stumbled all night in their attempts to contain Roberts.

Roberts accounted for the game's scoring in the 31st minute, when she bent a 35-yard boot off her left foot into the top right corner of the goal.

"I looked up and the keeper was off her line, so I tried to chip it over," Roberts said.
Roberts has scored five of her 10 goals in the postseason to help Urbana -- the 3A West Region's third seed -- survive a postseason schedule in which it has faced teams with a combined 41-17-2 record.

And when No. 10 Urbana (11-1-3) looks for its first state title in a meeting with Wilde Lake (16-4) Thursday at Broadneck, the Hawks will draw on experience they've gained from an unforgiving regular season schedule.

Urbana's regular season included losses to top-ranked St. John's (21-2-2), No. 3 Bishop O'Connell (17-4-3) and No. 4 River Hill (16-1-1) and wins over Baltimore power John Carroll (17-5) and New Mexico's St. Pius X (20-3).

"When we are playing the private schools, they are all club players and they are all the best players," said Roberts, a member of the under-16 national team. Among the colleges she is considering are Virginia, Duke, Florida, Santa Clara and Stanford. "We have learned how to play against different systems and in tournaments, even playing against a better team, we have a better feel for what could happen."

On a whiteboard in the locker room before the game, "I wrote The Washington Post's top 10 down," Urbana Coach Chuck Nichols said. "So, St. John's? Oh yeah, played them. O'Connell? Oh yeah, played them, River Hill? Played them. Did we learn anything? So far, so good."

Duff Lifts Wilde Lake

With three of its starters sidelined because of injuries, Wilde Lake relied on a goal and an assist from junior midfielder Caitlin Duff for a 2-1 victory over Catonsville in last night's early 3A state semifinal at Tuscarora.

Junior forward Faryn Watts finished Duff's corner kick in the 51st minute to push the Wildecats (16-4) into Thursday's 3A state final at Broadneck, where they will meet Urbana.

"I thought I needed to get this in right now because this could be our last opportunity," said Watts, who headed in her 12th goal of the season against a Catonsville side that had allowed just five goals, shut out 13 opponents and outscored its previous three postseason opponents, 11-0. "We are expecting the next team to be better than anything we've seen, so we just need to stay focused."

Duff finished senior midfielder Skye Fishbein's 15-yard left-footed cross with a jumping right-footed shot near the left post for a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute.

Catonsville (16-2) answered five minutes later when senior forward Jessica Nonn (32 goals) broke through two defenders and sent a 17-yard right-footed shot to the back right corner of the goal to tie the game at 1.

Wilde Lake junior goalkeeper Grace Koplow had seven saves.

"They are special not because they are winning, but because of what they are doing to prepare," Wilde Lake Coach Dave Procida said. "We've got three starters down and these kids have picked up their game and their intensity."

Girls' Soccer

Latour Is Catalyst for the Cougars
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, November 9, 2007; E08

Each time the clock stopped during Quince Orchard's 4-1 win over Eleanor Roosevelt in last night's 4A state semifinal at South River, the Cougars made their way toward midfielder Yvonne Latour.

The sophomore, who assisted on three of the Cougars' four goals, has become the focal point for a team going to its second consecutive state final.

Quince Orchard (16-2) will face C.M. Wright (12-3-1) in Thursday's 4A state final at Broadneck.

"She's emerged as a leader, even though she's a sophomore," said senior forward Ariel Nehemiah, who finished two of Latour's feeds to spark the come-from-behind victory. "In high-pressure situations, she steps up."

Nearly every offensive set, every set piece, six of the Cougars' nine free kicks and four of their seven corner kicks went through Latour.

"With the free kicks, I knew my team was going to get on them and I knew exactly where to place them," said Latour, who has 12 assists this season.

It was the second consecutive season that Quince Orchard defeated Eleanor Roosevelt (14-4) in the 4A state semifinals.

Maureen McMeekin controlled Latour's 35-yard free kick and dished to Sarah Moran, who connected on a shot from eight yards that tied the game at 1 in the 28th minute.

In the 48th minute, Latour fed Nehemiah (15 goals), who sneaked a sliding right-footed shot from 20 yards just inside the left post for the game-winner.

Eight minutes later, Nehemiah headed in Latour's third assist -- a corner kick -- for a 3-1 lead.
Emily D'Italia scored on a feed from Cailyn Bradley in the 70th minute to push the margin to 4-1.

Nonney Onyekweli scored the Raiders' goal after she broke free from her defender and finished from 12 yards for a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute.

Severna Park Ousted in OT

Lyndsie Ludwig's goal gave C.M. Wright a 2-1 overtime victory over No. 9 Severna Park in the other 4A state semifinal at South River.

"I looked for the far post in case I didn't make it, someone else could finish it," said Ludwig, who finished Kylie Galyen's feed with a sliding left-footed shot from 15 yards with just more than a minute left in overtime.

Ludwig's 12th goal of the season pushed the Mustangs (12-3-1) into Thursday's 4A state final at Broadneck, where they will meet Quince Orchard.

Severna Park (16-3) outshot C.M. Wright 8-5 and stymied 10 of the Mustangs' free kicks and all three of their corner kick chances. After claiming their 13th region title on Tuesday, the Falcons' winning streak was ended at 11.

Severna Park's Missy Weiss scored on a penalty kick that gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute before Mustangs junior defender Alexa Carlevaro's high-arcing shot from 35 yards spun under the crossbar and dropped into the back of the goal to tie it at 1 just 30 seconds before halftime.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Girls' Soccer

Urbana Topples B-CC in Region Final
By B.J. Koubaroulis

Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, November 7, 2007; E10

Urbana junior goalkeeper Caroline Browning stayed on top of the ball for a bit longer than usual.

She just wanted to be sure.

By the time she finally rolled over and let go of the game's final penalty kick -- her first and only save in a 3-2 shootout victory at Bethesda-Chevy Chase in last night's 3A West Region championship -- her teammates had already begun celebrating.

Browning made the game-winning save following a double-overtime 2-2 tie to give Urbana its first region title since 2003.

Urbana will play the winner of last night's Huntingtown-Northern matchup in the 3A South Region final.

"You have to stay calm and you can't get too hard on yourself after missing a few," said Browning, who made two saves in penalty kicks in Saturday's win over Tuscarora. "You have to stay relaxed and focused and move on to the next one as fast as it comes."

Tenth-ranked Urbana (10-3-1) became just the fourth team this season to score against fifth-ranked Bethesda Chevy-Chase (14-1), which had 11 shutouts and outscored its opponents 65-3 entering last night's game.

Urbana sophomore midfielder Amie Ruhe shrugged off her defender and finished a breakaway up the middle of the field with a left-footed shot from 16 yards for a 1-0 lead just two minutes into the game.

In the 24th minute, junior midfielder Julia Roberts bent the Hawks' third shot on goal and fourth free kick just under the crossbar from 28 yards for a 2-0 lead that stood until Hannah Cooper scored in the 59th and 69th minutes to draw the Barons even.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase outshot Urbana 10-5, recording seven of those shots after the first half.
"It was just like practice," said Urbana senior defender Kelly Mohns, who buried the Hawks' fifth and decisive penalty kick into the front right corner of the net. "This feels so good."

B-CC Boys Prevail

Bethesda-Chevy Chase junior forward David Williams didn't even get to see his game-winning shot hit the back right corner of the net in the Barons' 2-1 victory over visiting Urbana in the boys' 3A West Region championship.

Williams settled a feed from junior forward Chris Woodruff and sent a right-footed shot to the back of the net before a collision with Urbana's sliding goalkeeper sent him tumbling to the grass.

"I knew it was in once I kicked it," said Williams, who connected from 22 yards out in the 63rd minute to complete the come-from-behind win. "I didn't need to see it."

The goal gave B-CC (10-3-2) its first region title since 2004 and pushed the Barons into the state semifinals, where they will meet the winner of last night's 3A South Region final between Northern and Chopticon.

Urbana's season ended at 9-7-1.

The Barons scored on two of just four shots on goal, including a goal from Ethan White, who corralled a deflection and connected on a right-footed boot from 28 yards in the 53rd minute to tie it at 1.

"This is huge to move on to the next level when we were below .500 last year," said White, who was a part of the Barons' squad that finished 4-8-1 last season.

Monday, November 05, 2007


West Potomac's Bennett Orally Commits to U-Conn.
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, November 6, 2007; E06

West Potomac senior All-Met Jimmy Bennett has orally committed to play football at the University of Connecticut. Bennett, a 6-foot-8, 285-pound left tackle ranked as one of the nation's top offensive line recruits, made his decision Sunday night.

He chose the Huskies over West Virginia, Boston College, Michigan State, Penn State, Maryland and Virginia Tech.

"It was for all the right reasons," said Bennett, who has not yielded a sack in his high school career and who this season helped West Potomac (7-3, 4-3 Virginia AAA Patriot District) to its first playoff berth since 2000. "The coach takes personal interest in the players' grades and the players themselves, and they're not just another player on the roster. It's a family-type atmosphere up there. It's a great atmosphere for learning and playing."

In just its sixth season of division I-A football, Connecticut (8-1, 4-0 Big East) is ranked 16th by the Associated Press and is 13th in the Bowl Championship Series ratings.

"It would make no difference if they were good or bad," Bennett said. "Even if they were 0-9, I would still go there."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Girls' Soccer

O'Connell's Net Work Lifts Potomac School
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, November 5, 2007; E10

After a vicious aerial collision against Georgetown Visitation, Potomac School sophomore goalkeeper Churchill O'Connell laid flat inside the penalty box. It looked bad, but O'Connell just needed time to recover.

"I'm the only goalkeeper, so I knew I had to get up," said O'Connell, who saved 14 shots in a 1-0 victory over sixth-ranked Georgetown Visitation during yesterday's Independent School League AA final at Episcopal.

O'Connell saved two penalty shots in Friday's 4-2 shootout victory over seventh-ranked National Cathedral (13-3) to help the Panthers -- the tournament's third seed -- advance to yesterday's final.

"That's the second game in a row where she's kept us in it to win it," Potomac School Coach Ross McEwen said of O'Connell.

During its eight-game winning streak, Potomac School (11-3-2) shut out four opponents and beat two of The Post's top 10 teams to claim its first ISL tournament title since 1999.

Georgetown Visitation (14-3) outshot Potomac School 7-3 in the first half.

With 2 minutes and 11 seconds left in the second half, junior midfielder Cassidy Banks bent a 25-yard free kick over a wall of five defenders and into the top left corner of the net for the decisive goal.

"That's my specialty shot," Banks said. "I'm confident and I know what I want to do each time. I don't even look at the wall. I just know I'm going to place it in the upper left corner every time."

Georgetown Day's Reversal

Georgetown Day senior Sophie Gayter ran off the field clapping her hands when she was pulled out in the final minutes of the Mighty Hoppers' 4-0 victory over Flint Hill (10-5) in the ISL A Conference final at Episcopal.

A few teammates saw Gayter clapping and nodded their heads in a silent endorsement only a group of what Gayter called her "sisters" really could understand.

"It's unbelievable," said Gayter, as she tried to explain how her team -- which posted an 0-16-1 record two seasons ago -- was huddling for team pictures with the tournament trophy.

"We were winless. To come back and win the league with virtually the same starting lineup is unbelievable. I'm just happy to be a part of this team."

Gayter delivered a well-placed through pass that junior forward Alex Owens finished with a right-footed blast from 12 yards to put Georgetown Day (14-5) up 1-0 in the first minute.

"That set the tone for us," said Owens, who scored her 28th and 29th goals of the season. "Our goal coming into this season was to win the title for the seniors, and it was a lot of work, but it feels amazing."

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Girls' Soccer

Leonardtown Wins 11th Straight Game
Leondardtown 2, Arundel 0
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, November 3, 2007; E06

Last night's 2-0 victory over visiting Arundel was the first time since last November the Leonardtown girls' soccer players had to tuck themselves into their wool caps, ear-bands and long-sleeve undershirts.

No problem, however, because the chilly 4A East Region semifinal showed that the Raiders are heating up at just the right time -- again.

Leonardtown won its final seven games en route to last season's 4A state title, but stumbled early this season in a 2-1 loss to Patuxent on Sept. 17 -- a defeat that cost the Raiders (14-2) the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference title.

"They are hungry," Coach Jennifer Henderson said. "For the second year in a row we didn't win our conference championship. In our conference, it's tough because every team wants to knock off Leonardtown, so our girls have learned that they have to be up for every game. We learned from that loss."

The Raiders have since outscored their opponents 53-1 en route to 11 consecutive victories and a berth in Tuesday's 7 p.m. final at ninth-ranked Severna Park (14-2).

The Raiders will be trying to extend a shutout streak that reached 10 last night. The last time they allowed a goal came on Sept. 21, in a 6-1 victory over Chopticon. They've allowed just six goals all season.

Offensively, the Raiders have plenty of depth. Their first goal, in the 29th minute, came on the strength of a pair of junior midfielders who are not even regulars in the starting lineup. Jessica Cooke found Davi Clark, who headed in the cross for a 1-0 lead.

Junior midfielder Emily Gehrig and sophomore forward Johanna Rambo have each scored 10 goals for an offense that is averaging 4.4 per game.

"We have just as good a team as last year if not better with our chemistry," said Gehrig, who gave the Raiders the 2-0 lead in the 43rd minute when she finished Rambo's 15-yard right-footed cross with a leaning header near the right post. "The loss to Patuxent helped us realize what we want in the end."

Arundel, which played in its first regional semifinal in six seasons, dropped to 11-4.

Leonardtown 2, Arundel 0 Raiders Give Back: On Oct. 22 at Breton Bay Golf Club, the Leonardtown boys' and girls' soccer teams held a golf tournament to benefit wounded military personnel. Arundel's Achilles': The Wildcats suffered two of their four losses to No. 9 Severna Park, including a 2-1 loss to the Falcons in last week's Anne Arundel County championship.