The Severna Park girls lacrosse team has engaged in a multitude of important games in recent years, as its four consecutive 4A-3A state championships will attest.
Now, it's Chesapeake's turn.
A title isn't at stake when the Falcons and Cougars (both 7-0) meet this afternoon at Severna Park -- only a couple of winning streaksand sole possession of first place in the 4A League.
"Severna Park has had plenty of these important games. It's nice that we're in that position," said Cougars coach Jim Buchan.
"We're excited to be in a position to go over there in a meaningful game."
The Cougars are seeking their first-ever win over Severna Park, "which says a lotabout their program," Buchan said.
Chesapeake senior Diane McBee believes this could be the year -- as long as her teammates don't become too enamored with their opponent.
"When you look at Severna Park as Severna Park, you're really going in there with the wrong attitude," said the three-year varsity attacker.
"You have to look at them as another team -- another really good team, but just another opponent we have to face. I mean, they're not gods."
Just a team that's unbeaten in its last 57 games.
"As Severna Park's season continues, the kids there have gained confidence," Buchan said. "Somebody will have to take control of the situation. But the reason they're where they are is they're so strong."
That's still the case, eventhough graduation has stripped them of such All-Metro talent as attackers Erika Mawhorr, Betsy Elder and Gina Roberts, and a knee injury sidelined versatile Tami Riley.
"The girls have done a great job. We needed the older players to help bring along the younger ones, and they've done exactly that. They've worked together nicely as a team," said Coach Carin Peterson.
Severna Park isn't the only team that's become a stranger to defeat. The Cougars haven't lost in their last 12 games, including impressive victories this spring over Annapolis, 13-6, Broadneck, 9-5, and St. Mary's, 10-7.
The Falcons handled Broadneck, 15-7, but struggled before disposing of Annapolis, 13-12.
"We were more worried about Annapolis than we are about Severna Park," admitted Chesapeake senior attacker Julie Smith. "We had to get past Annapolis to be in the running with Severna Park.
"I really think we can play with (the Falcons). The whole team has a positive attitude. We're very dedicated, we work hard in practice, and I think that shows in our games."
It shows in the statistics.
McBee and Smithhave scored 28 goals and 26 goals, respectively. A third attacker, senior Julie Henne, has 14 goals, and midfielder Marlene Pyles has nine.
Senior keeper Michele Julian has 96 saves in seven games, whileallowing only 32 goals.
"If we do get scored upon, she's able to immediately focus, and we don't get a run on us. It's not like you turn your head and
three goals have gone by," Buchan said.
"We certainly can't let (Severna Park) start getting that continuity."
Julian said, "Their shots are going to be good, but it's nothing I haven't seen before. It's like the shots I face every day in practice.
"It's just another game. It may be bigger than the rest as far as publicity goes, but when it comes down to it, we'll just do our thing."
Chesapeake's "thing" can't include focusing on one particular Severna Park player.
"I'm looking at the box score from the South River game (an 18-7 Severna Park win Tuesday) and six or seven different kids scored goals," Buchan said. "It's not like some teams with oneor two key players, and if you take them out, you've got a big jump on them. With Severna Park, they have others who can jump in and fillthe spot.
"They'll have 11 field players out there, and they're all dangerous."
Especially senior attacker Hillary Kuker, who's coming off a six-goal, two-assist effort against South River.
When asked how the teams match up, Peterson said, "It's two different stylesof play."
"One has more of a running game," she said of the Cougars, "and the other more of a passing game."
Buchan said, "We'll take what we have, and they'll take what they have, and we'll go at it.
"I'm looking forward to this game, because the kids have earned the shot. They also realize it doesn't take much to lose what they've earned.
"We're in a position to take our best shot, and you can't ask for any more than that."