The boys soccer season shifts into high gear Friday when league competition begins. Teams such as Oakland Mills, Atholton and Glenelg, which were stung badly by losses to non-league foes, will be playing a lot harder now in a effort to salvage their seasons.
The season isdivided into three parts -- non-league games, league games and playoffs. Every team measures a season by whether or not it makes the playoffs.
It looks like Centennial remains the cream of the crop. And it appears that the race for second place is still wide open.
The Eagles were 4-0 as of Monday and ranked as The Sun's top Baltimore-area team. Its big wins were 2-1 decisions over Calvert Hall and Walt Whitman. Centennial also beat C. Milton Wright, 5-0, and St. Joe, 3-1.
Its defense has allowed just six goals, and forward Josh Baer has scored seven of Centennial's 12 goals.
Everything points to Centennialwinning the state Class 3A championship. But seven county teams willtry to knock off the Eagles.
Oakland Mills and Atholton, both defending state champs, are two of the teams that have suffered disappointing seasons.
The Scorpions have stumbled to the worst record among county teams so far, at 1-3-1.
A rugged schedule, which included Bowie, Calvert Hall, Loyola and Kennedy, has accounted for much of the poor record.
Oakland Mills' inability to score has been acute.The Scorpions have just four goals in five games and were shut out three times.
Oakland Mills beat Kennedy, 1-0, but lost to Calvert Hall, 2-0, Bowie, 3-0, and Bel Air, 1-0. The Bel Air loss was especially depressing since the Bobcats were unranked, while Oakland Mills was No. 4 at the time.
Oakland Mills outshot Bel Air, 23-1. The Bobcats scored eight minutes into the game on a header off a corner kick.The Scorpions had two goals called back for offsides. Twice the Scorps hit the post, and once the bar.
But Scorps coach Don Shea is still optimistic.
"I like the progress we are making," he said. "We're decent, and have been in all our games, playing tough teams. The kids aren't doubting themselves, although the loss to Bel Air disheartened them."
Oakland Mills opens the league by entertaining Wilde Lake Friday. The Scorpions haven't lost to the Wildecats since 1987.
Atholton has stumbled to a 2-3 record, losing its last three games to Bethesda, Meade and Kennedy after victories over Loyola and Glen Burnie.
"We've played some good soccer but have been mighty unlucky," Coach Reg Hahne said. "It seems that we're always hitting the crossbar of the post or else the goalie is making great saves."
The 2-1 loss to Meade in overtime was especially upsetting, since Meade wasnot ranked in the top 20 and Atholton was No. 7. Star striker Tony Dedmond has been held to three goals and two assists.
"We're disappointed," Hahne said. "We thought we'd be 4-1 right now."
Another disappointed team is Glenelg, which had hoped to be 5-0 but instead is2-2-1.
The Gladiators got off to a rocky start, losing their first two games to Spalding and Liberty, both in overtime.
"Since then, we corrected a couple of weaknesses, and I still feel we are capable of beating six of the seven county teams," Coach John Bouman said.
Glenelg's defense has three straight shutouts and has allowed onlyfive goals in five games.
Matt Drummand has scored five goals forGlenelg, whose outstanding goalie is Russell Payne.
Mount Hebron,Wilde Lake, Howard and Hammond are teams who are satisfied with their records so far.
Howard at 3-1 has the second best record among county teams and is ranked No. 4.
"We have hard workers who are hungry to win," said Coach Rudy Storch.
Like several county squads, the Lions have had problems scoring goals, with just four in four games. Fortunately, one goal was enough against Bel Air and Linganore. Two goals beat St. Joe, and Howard lost to powerful Calvert Hall, 3-0.
"We have a decent defense, and so far it has been a positive season," Storch said. "I hope we can at least make it to the playoffs by the back door."
Sweeper Marc Osterman, fullback Jarrod Moreland andfullback Keith Nelka have looked good. Goalie James Morrow has avoided mistakes and could be tough against county foes.
"He has natural ability, is tall and a good punter," said Storch.
Jason Yancey has scored two goals for Howard.
Mount Hebron is 2-1-1 with its only setback coming against a fast Fallston team that should challenge for a state Class 1A title.
"Fallston was so quick that we couldn'tstay with them," Coach Ron Martin said. "We could barely get the ball past midfield, and I'm wondering whether we can compete with the top county teams."
Mount Hebron tied Catonsville and beat Aberdeen and Edgewood.
Wilde Lake is 2-1 with shutout wins over St. Joe and Gibbons, but a 5-3 defeat by Curley. The 'Cats are ranked No. 9.
Through Monday, Hamisi Amani-Dove had four goals and three assists andMatt Nesbitt had three goals and six assists. Wilde Lake has 11 goals and has allowed just five.