David Lord doesn't view the sounds of silence with the fondness of Simon and Garfunkel, at least not before a regional soccer championship.
The Broadneck girls soccer coach didn't hear the usual chatter from his young players on the Saturday afternoon bus ride to Severna Park High, and he took their subdued behavior as a bad omen.
"I sense the kids are real uptight right now," Lord said prior to the Class 4A-3A, Region III final. "Usually we're real loose, but on the bus coming down it was a little more quiet."
The third-seeded Bruins made some noise on the field, playing top-seeded Severna Park even through one half before finally succumbing, 2-0, in the Class 4A, Region III finals.
In the boys 4A, Region IV title game, striker Rich Aftoora's two goals hoisted Broadneck over North County, 2-1, and into the state playoffs.
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Broadneck girls, who lost to Chesapeake in last season's regional semifinals. Lord himself called the Bruins "a completely different team" back in early September, after graduation had removed such stalwarts as Betsy Given, Suzanne Driver, Paula Prisco and Keri Lord.
Broadneck was, indeed, a different team -- a slightly improved one.
"The kids have played on the same level since the second game," Lord marveled. "They have not had peaks and valleys. They've maintained a consistency which I've never had from a team before."
"Teamwork and togetherness got us through everything," junior keeper Holly Mowry said. "This team has come so far from the beginning, it's incredible. It was a great feeling to come this far."
The Bruins came within inches of scoring just two minutes into the game.
Freshman midfielder Amy Adams drilled a shot toward the upper left-hand corner of the net that lunging Severna Park keeper Tami Riley deflected with one hand.
The Falcons (14-0) themselves repeatedly were turned aside by a hustling Broadneck defense led by Mowry and stopper Dawn Frederick.
Frederick shadowed Severna Park's Betsy Anderson (15 goals, seven assists) the entire game, once running down the senior forward from behind in the second half to keep the game scoreless.
"She was definitely marking me everywhere," Anderson said, "even when I switched to halfback."
"Dawn Frederick is a Division I soccer player," Lord said. "There's no one else in Anne Arundel County who could stay with Betsy Anderson."
Mowry was every bit as tenacious, nearly jumping out of her shoes to make nine saves.
"Holly did a super job just to keep us in it," Lord said. "She's a gamer. For someone who's never been in goal until last year, she's made so many strides. She's taking control, she's matured some and she's not afraid of anyone."
One shot Mowry couldn't stop -- Tina Riley's header of an Anderson corner kick with 17:34 remaining in regulation -- proved the game-winner.
Riley now has three goals, all of them headers off corner kicks.
Rather than fold, the Bruins (10-3) continued to attack. They nearly produced the tying goal seconds after Riley's conversion, but Ava Tasker's shot was smothered by Tami Riley (five saves).
"Broadneck played an excellent game," Severna Park coach Joyce Stefancik said. "Can't take anything away from them. They played very well."
When senior Michelle Cope (10 goals) scored on a breakaway with 2:50 left, the Falcons were ticketed for Chesapeake High on Saturday and a 3 p.m. state 4A-3A semifinal game against C. Milton Wright.
"C. Milton Wright's the only team I haven't seen play," Stefancik said of the team the Falcons defeated, 4-0, in last season's state final. "We saw them last year, but it's a different year and a different team."
And Stefancik knows what problems a "different" team can cause.
While the Falcons continue their march toward a third consecutive state championship Saturday, the Broadneck boys will compete on their home turf, site of their 5 p.m. semifinal game against Thomas Wootton.
In avenging an earlier 2-1 loss to North County (12-2), the Bruins (8-2-4) won their third regional title under coach Kevin McMullen.
The key to their latest conquest, McMullen says, was their composure during a midseason skid when Broadneck played to scoreless ties in three straight games.
"The kids never panicked," he said. "They kept coming out and practicing really hard. And we were playing good soccer then. We just weren't able to score.
"I knew from the beginning we had a strong group. This game is like a big jigsaw puzzle. The big thing is getting the right pieces in the right spots. Once we did, we kicked into gear.
"I wouldn't change anything about those ties. We learned valuable lessons from them."
McMullen learned he needed more offense, leading to the switch of junior Matt Weimer from defender to forward.
Smart move. The Bruins netted 16 goals -- eight from Weimer -- in their last four regular-season games.
Aftoora, the school's all-time leading scorer (30 goals, 12 assists) gave Broadneck a 1-0 lead at 3:35 when he took a Weimer pass along the right sideline and whistled a shot past North County keeper Jesse Haislip from 15 yards out.
Aftoora would provide the game-winner, as well, rebounding his own shot and scoring 16 minutes into the second half.
"I felt before the season started they were going to be the best team," Knights coach Steve Malone said of the Bruins. "I was a little surprised they were having some troubles early."
"We've had to overcome a lot of obstacles," said Broadneck keeper Sean Tettemer, who was beaten on a Jody Haislip penalty kick 2:52 into the second half that tied the score, 1-1. "It took a lot of patience, persistance and poise."
Not to mention points.