Will there be an all-Anne Arundel County matchup for this year's Class 4A/3A girls soccer title?
Today at Chesapeake High, Severna Park will take on Harford County's C.
Milton Wright and Old Mill will battle Howard County's Oakland Mills to yield the answer.
The winners will play for the state title next weekend at Arundel High.
Here is a preview of each of the games.
No. 3 Old Mill (11-3) vs. No. 2 Oakland Mills (12-1) 5 p.m. at Chesapeake High: Old Mill head coach Bruce Sponsler, who was vacationing with family, could not be reached yesterday. But he and several members of his coaching staff scouted the Oakland Mills Scorpions in their 2-1 Region III title game victory over Howard High two weeks ago.
The Scorpions have won five straight county titles and have a 12-game winning streak. They also won four Class 4A Central Maryland girls soccer tournament titles before it officially became a state tournament last year.
"They're an aggressive and well-coached team," Old Mill assistant coach Wayne Robinson said. "They have some speed and probably three of Howard County's best players on their team."
Robinson was referring to the Scorpions' top three scorers, Stephanie Magro (13 goals, five assists), Mia Dammen (nine goals, seven assists) and Tyann Blissett (seven goals).
"They're a concern because they'll dictate how the flow of the game will go for Oakland Mills," Robinson said. "We'll have to come up with a way to neutralize them."
Yet Scorpions Tricia Witte and Danette Lemerise (four goals each) can also score. Thanks to a solid defense led by Christine Copeland (five assists), Scorpion keeper Jenny Golding (50 saves) has had to handle an average of just over three saves per game.
Look for last year's unexpected 2-1 state semifinal loss to C. Milton Wright to give the Scorpions some extra motivation for today's game.
1987 was the last time the Patriots began their season at 0-2, and they went on to win the Class 4A Central Maryland girls soccer tournament title that season.
Since losing to the Falcons and Chesapeake early on and despite several key injuries to defensive players, the Patriots have been on a tear, with a current nine-game winning streak.
Led by senior scoring leaders Michelle Salmon (16 goals, three assists) and Terri Lee (10 goals, seven assists), the Patriots have nine shutouts and have outscored their last nine opponents, 31-3.
In its last game, the Patriots blanked Carroll County's North Carroll, 5-0, to win their third Class 4A/3A Region II title in their fifth regional championship game appearance.
Freshman goalie Jackie Bardelli has stepped in for starter Amy Drapalski (broken nose). Fullback Alison Zaetz (sprained ankle) practiced sparingly last week but should be in shape for today's contest. Old Mill fullbacks Erin Grossberg and Jen Bostak are proven stalwart defenders.
"We beat them, 3-1," Severna Park coach Joyce Stefancik said. "But it's a different Old Mill team now."
"We got out of the gate slowly this year by losing to Severna Park and Chesapeake," Robinson said. "But now we're playing our best soccer of the entire year. Right now, I'd have to say that we're ready for (Oakland Mills.)" No. 1 Severna Park (14-0) v. No. 4 C. Milton Wright (10-4) 7 p.m. at Chesapeake High: Severna Park coach Joyce Stefancik has an overall 119-28-3 record, excluding her first season, in 1979 when the Falcons went 1-5 but were competing as a club team. Her teams have won five county titles and six regional titles.
Even though the Falcons defeated a much better C. Milton Wright team, 4-0, for last year's title, Stefancik isn't taking the Mustangs lightly.
"We're not looking beyond them; I think that's what Oakland Mills did last year," said Stefancik, referring to C. Milton Wright's 2-1 victory over Oakland Mills in the other state semifinal last year.
"We've been a super ball club on occasion, and we feel fortunate to have gotten this far," said fifth-year C. Milton Wright coach Ken Dawson, who has led the Mustangs to three consecutive Region I titles and two Harford County titles. "The girls are looking forward to playing (Severna Park).
Why not play the best?"
Led by senior forward Julie Francis (12 goals, three assists) and Kelly MacNeill (five, four), the Mustangs have won seven of their last nine games. Sweeper Leigh Biggerman (two goals, one assist) is a former Olympic Developmental state team player, and junior goaltender Danielle Rivas has five shutouts.
Among the Mustangs' victories is a 2-1 win over Joppatowne, last year's Class 2A/1A state runner-up.
"I didn't have a chance to scout them, but they have to be as good as anyone else in the playoffs. I know they kept things pretty even with us in the first half of last year's game," Stefancik said. "I understand they were outplayed against Dulaney and they still won that game. We're just going to play them straight up and hope our solid defense and scoring will get us there."
On the line today for the two-time defending Class 4A/3A state champion Falcons is a 44-0-1 record -- including 38 consecutive victories -- since losing to Meade in overtime in the 1987 Region IV finals.
The Falcons have outscored their opponents, 225-14, over the last three seasons, including a 95-3 count last season.
Goalkeeper Tami Riley, a three-year starter, has 32 career shutouts and has allowed nine career goals. She has five shutouts this season and just five goals have gotten by her.
Leading the way offensively are senior forwards Betsy Anderson (15 goals, eight assists), Michelle Cope (10, two) and junior midfielders Cathi Hanson (seven, three) and Nicki Cecere (six, five).
Next, there's freshman striker Erin Wylde (five goals, three assists), senior stopper Tina Riley (three, two) and senior fullback Emily Vandergrift (two goals).