One of the biggest games on last week's local rec soccer schedule was played Saturday at Sandymount Elementary School.
There, Benny's Jets and the Wings, tied for first in the Sandymount youth rec soccer league's under-14 division, tangled to break that tie.
Benny's, named for the Elton John 1970s hit "Benny and the Jets," prevailed, 3-1.
Angie Shipp, Greg Tolson and Eddie Ward scored for the winners and sweeper Dave Sinclair and three different goal keepers left the Wings' offense grounded.
The Jets are now 6-1-1; the Wings, 5-2-1.
But that supposedly climactic showdown hasn't cleared the confusion over who will win the divisional title.
Third-place Umbros also won, to improve to 5-0-3 and tie the Jets for first.
Each has 13 points, with two points given for a win and one for a tie.
If Umbros and Benny's tie in their clash this coming weekend and the Wings win over the next-to-last-place Cows, the three squads virtually would be tied for first with one game remaining.
A season-ending three-way tie is not out of the question. The winner then would be the team with the biggest difference between goals they scored and goals they allowed.
With matters this close, it could actually come to that.
The outlook is equally murky in the Westminster rec soccer league's under-12 division, where three teams are only a game apart as the season winds down.
Saturday, the Force muscled its way into a second-place tie with the Royals by topping them, 5-3.
Both squads, which are 5-2, are hot on the heels of the 6-1 Kickers.
"The way it's going, no one knows what will happen," said Westminster under-12 Commissioner Richard Brewer. "The kids have played their hearts out."
The excitement, however, ends with the regular season, because the league has no postseason play.
The North Carroll League does; and that could give Maryland Liquid Waste an opportunity for a title after all. It lost any chance of winning in the regular season when it, along with under-10 opponent North Carroll Physical Therapy, couldn't field teams last Saturday.
Because the game can't be rescheduled in the time remaining in the season, it will not be played.
First-place Long's Florist, which moved two wins ahead of Liquid Waste with a victory Saturday, thus clinched the regular-season crown because only one game remains. Liquid Waste gets another chance in the league's postseason tournament, scheduled for North Carroll Middle the weekend of Nov. 10-11.
Where do the athletes go when the rec season -- and their youth career -- end?
Carroll has but two men's soccer teams and one football squad -- the latter being the Westminster Pit Bulls, who play in the Northwest Area Flag Football League in Reisterstown, Baltimore County.
And, even a lot of those Pit Bulls are Baltimore countians.
With the folding of the Mount Airy and Francis Scott Key clubs in recent years, the Westminster Wolves and North Carroll Arrows are the only men's soccer teams.
Arrows coach Ross Burbage says few are willing to take on leadership roles in operating teams, even though there is substantial interest in soccer.
He also cited as a reason for the lack of men's soccer teams the difficulty in raising sponsorship money for adult soccer as opposed to softball, which is more traditionally popular in Carroll County.
Finally, he said, soccer is generally a younger man's game and the pool of players is limited somewhat by age. But Burbage said that the tremendous growth in youth rec soccer in the county recently could carry over and produce bigger pools of adult players and organizers in the future.
Football has its own problems.
Tackle football is terrifically expensive, and there are few teams in the area to play.
Also, the sport is too risky for many who must be able to get up and go to work the next day.
Yet the substitutes -- flag and touch football -- may not fill the bill either, said Carroll resident Bob Farenholt, a one-time member of the now-defunct Carroll County Chargers semi-pro football squad who now plays for the Frederick Falcons.
For some former high school grid players, the 1970 Westminster High grad said that flag and touch football "are a letdown."
"They aren't the same sport (as tackle)," he said. "Maybe a lot of people feel that way."
But Northwest Flag League Commissioner John McGraw, who quarterbacks the Pit Bulls, said that his game is vigorous enough and that most of his league's griders played football in high school or college.
"If they don't think there's enough contact, I invite them to come out," said the Reisterstown resident and Franklin High grad. "There's no padding as in tackle, and when you get near the goal line, it's almost the same as tackle."
Some rec officials believe two things have to happen for these sports to attract more adult players:
* Those wanting to start and successfully operate club football, soccer or other teams for adults must recruit directly out of the high schools before the graduating athletes drift away from their sports. To do this, they must keep in close contact with the school teams and coaches.
* It would help if local leagues were available. The prospect of having to drive to another county or state to play certainly deters players from trying.