"It's just for state points. It's not make or break," said Broadneckcoach Kevin McMullen, trying to downplay the importance of today's boys soccer meeting with Severna Park.
Added Severna Park coach DonGregg, who is in his 18th year, "It's only the second game of the season; it's not life or death."
Even though today's 5:30 p.m. game at Severna Park might not be for a county title, it could go a long way to determining who wins it.
For the members of the Falcons' squad, it's a chance to assuage the painful memory of last year's 2-1 loss in the championship game ofthe Class 4A Region IV semifinals.
The loss to Broadneck -- whichcompiled a 9-3-4 record and lost an overtime match to Bowie, 2-1, inthe state championship game -- denied Severna Park (10-3) its third straight regional title. It was also the first time that the Falcons suffered a playoff loss to a county team since losing to Meade in the1987 semifinals.
"It's not like it's revenge," Gregg said. "But nobody likes to lose."
Severna Park's season-opening 3-0 victory over Arundel was Gregg's 29th straight regular-season county league win. The Falcons haven't lost a county league game since falling to Meade in the last game of the 1987 regular season. Meade then lost the regional title to Arundel, which won a share of the state title that year.
Gregg's players spent Saturday watching films of last year's game. Several players from that squad -- midfielders Dave Rupert, MikeCrawford, Kenny Taylor and Brian Peterson, defenders Kevin Shultz, Jamie Cornett and Steve Neuberger and goalie Jason Zaks -- took a good, long look at the season-ending game.
"They were looking over themistakes they made and hopefully we can correct them this time," Gregg said. "They weren't being real loud about it. It was a fairly relaxed atmosphere.
"But I think they were internally motivated."
Providing further motivation is this weekend's alumni reunion, where players from this year's team will meet those from past ones before taking on North County in another important league game. A victory overBroadneck would be a better topic of conversation than another loss.
"Sure, I expect them (the Falcons) to be thinking about that loss," said 10th-year coach McMullen, whose squad downed Annapolis, 3-1, in its season opener. "It's going to be a really good game with outstanding matchups, but we're going to keep things in perspective. I think the two teams will be feeling each other out."
At least two players will not wait long before attacking the goal -- the Falcons' Peterson (11 goals, four assists last year) and the Bruins' Matt Weimer (nine goals, six assists).
"I think they are two of the county's best strikers," McMullen said.
Toss in Broadneck's center-halfback Jeff Vincent and Severna Park's midfielder Crawford (five goals, fiveassists), and senior goalkeepers Mike Smith (Broadneck) and Zaks (Severna Park) could have their hands full.
Zaks has the edge in varsity experience, but Smith isn't far behind.
Heading into his season-ending contest with the Bruins a year ago, Zaks had an 0.73 goals-against average. He was a second-team All-County selection by the AnneArundel County Sun, behind Broadneck's Sean Tettemer.
"Sean was the player who took us over the top last year, and I expect Mike to step in where he left off," McMullen said. "Those two had a very competitive battle for the starting spot, and Sean crystallized as the starter -- but not by that much."
But with Cornett, Neuberger and Shultz all returning to the back line, the Falcons have an edge defensively and in overall experience. Broadneck defenders John Hanna, BrendanCollins and stopper Mark Patrick are solid players, but a key will be how well sweeper Dave Apple recovers from a recent knee injury.
"Our midfield also has Ryan Voegtlin, Dave Rupert and Mark Casper," Gregg said. "And with Peter Joergensen (an exchange student from Copenhagen, Denmark) up front with Peterson, they won't be able to key on just one guy."