County Soccer Teams Could Sweep 6 State Titles In '91 But A Reclassification Would End Big Rivalry

November 11, 1990|By Rick Belz

While the state playoffs for most sports are still in high gear, here are a few items from my notebooks worth mentioning.

* County soccer teams could make a clean sweep of all six state championships next year.

The county has two boys soccer teams and one girls team among the Final Four vying for state titles this year. The most it could have is a total of four.

But next year it may have as many as six teams capable of winning state titles, because all county public schools are due for reclassification.

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, which does not include Baltimore City schools but otherwise conducts statewide tournaments, divides the teams by four school classifications: 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A, based on enrollments.

Right now, the county has three 3A schools, Howard, Centennial and Oakland Mills; and five 2A schools, Wilde Lake, Atholton, Glenelg, Mount Hebron and Hammond.

The county recently sent the state its preliminary enrollment figures for next year, and it is possible that Centennial will move up to Class 4A and that Wilde Lake will drop to 1A, giving the county at least one team in every classification.

This would give the boys shots at four state titles and the girls shots at two.

There are only two girls state titles now because the MPSSAA combines Class 4A and 3A schools into one group and Class 2A and 1A into another group. This is because not all counties yet play girls soccer, and one that does, Montgomery, plays girls soccer in the spring.

Centennial and Wilde Lake figure to have good teams in both boys and girls divisions next year.

One sad result of such a reclassification would be an end to the longtime rivalry between Oakland Mills and Centennial in the boys regional championship game -- a high-drawing sports event that attracted another huge crowd this year.

Centennial coach Bill Stara calls it "The Great Fall Classic," and for once, the word classic is not used lightly.

* Had Oakland Mills goalie Tony Richmond been unable to play against Centennial in the regional championship game last Saturday due to his badly sprained ankle, the Scorpions had an able replacement.

Matt Donovan, who like Howard's backup, Steve Sunderland, could have started for most teams, was waiting in the wings.

Donovan played a lot last year and was backup to superstar goalie Brian Boussy.

"Donovan's good," Scorpion coach Don Shea said. "If the game comes down to penalty kicks, it's understood that Donovan comes in."

* Is Oakland Mills a deep veteran team, or what?

In the regional semifinals against Howard, the Scorpions played only one underclassman. In the finals against Centennial, coach Don Shea said he used only two.

"We went with experience," Shea said.

* Almost forgotten in the regional playoff excitement was mention of the end of Howard's 28-game unbeaten string, one of the longest ever.

Oakland Mills, which lost one time last year by 7-1 to Howard, snapped the streak in the regional semifinal game.

Oakland Mills has the longest streak that I'm aware of, 41 games during the 1979 to 1982 period. Centennial ended that streak.

* The Centennial (11-2-1) boys soccer team outscored its opponents, 37-10, this year. Five of those goals were scored in two losses to Oakland Mills.

Oakland Mills (12-2), had outscored its opponents, 45-9, through regional competition. With its 10 shutouts, only four teams scored off the Scorpions.

* The Oakland Mills boys cross country team was shooting for its seventh straight state title yesterday, past The Howard Sun's deadline.

Of those seven teams, coach Steve Carnahan thinks this year's squad is the best.

He calls it a "career team." Only once in a coach's career does a squad with such talent and dedication come along.

After winning the regional title last week, Carnahan said there was remorse on the bus coming home because the team realized it had only one more week to compete.

The starting seven, Joe Drissel, Paul Schoeny, Bill Dye, Brandon Hart, Ken Plasse, Brian Lopez and Matt Bond are all seniors, so next year's squad will face a huge challenge to carry on the tradition.

* Many complaints about soccer officiating have been directed my way this season.

I always tell people that as long as the refs are missing calls for both sides, I don't get too upset. It means they are doing the best they can, and how much more can you ask at this level?

It does upset me when the calls favor one team.

I know it is hard for the players to swallow inadequate officiating, because they perform at such a high caliber they expect equal quality from the officials.

After watching about 30 games this season, I have my selections for best- and worst-officiated games of the year, however.

The best-officiated was the Centennial/Oakland Mills regional championship game. The worst-officiated was the Hammond/Patapsco girls regional game.

Let's just say I was extremely upset about the officiating at that girls game, in which Hammond couldn't beg a favorable call. I felt very badly for the Hammond girls.

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