C. Milton Wright's girls soccer team grabbed the final regional berth for the Class 4A/3A, Region I playoffs set to begin Tuesday. The only other county team in the region, Bel Air, was eliminated.
The Mustangs (8-4) will travel to meet top-seeded Dulaney (9-1), in what has become a perennial playoff rivalry. Perry Hall (8-4) earned the number-two spot and will host third-seeded Kenwood (7-4) in the other semifinal game.
For the past two years, the Mustangs have beaten Dulaney in the regionals after the Lions won in 1987. Last year, C. Milton Wright edged the Lions, 1-0, in the regional finale and went on to reach the state final. Defending state champ Severna Park ended the Mustangs title hopes with a 4-0 victory.
Since none of the last three games between the Mustangs and Dulaney were decided by more than two goals, C. Milton Wright doesn't take the Lions lightly.
"Most of the kids on my team go back two years, and they respect Dulaney," said Mustangs coach Ken Dawson. "They have some talented players and they've been able to do a good job against us. But my kids are comfortable playing tough competition."
That strength of schedule could give the Mustangs a better chance at the regional title than their seeding indicates. While C. Milton Wright plays tough opposition almost every game, the Lions haven't faced much competition playing in a lopsided Baltimore County league.
The Mustangs, who finished their schedule with a 5-0 victory over Havre de Grace Monday, overcame some inexperience to finish the season strong. On Oct. 15, they beat Joppatowne, 2-1, to deal the county champions their only league loss.
Three seniors have given the Mustangs a boost all through the season.
On the line, left wing Julie Francis leads the team in scoring with 10 goals and an assist. Another forward, Leigh Biggerman, has moved to sweeper, where she has shown her versatility on defense.
In the midfield, Kelly MacNeill has contributed four goals and three assists. More importantly, the center halfback has controlled the midfield setting up scoring opportunities for her teammates.
If the Mustangs can beat Dulaney Tuesday afternoon, they move on to the winner of the Perry Hall-Kenwood game. That final is tentatively set for Thursday afternoon.