A simple personnel move keyed Loch Raven's 2-0 victory over Joppatowne yesterday in the Class 2A, Region III girls soccer finals.
Coach Bruce Stevens shifted Suzie Waire to the back line to mark Joppatowne's high-scoring Thori Staples (26 goals). Heidi Binder moved forward to fill Waire's center midfield post.
The strategy worked to perfection. Binder put the Raiders ahead 17 minutes into the game with a long chip shot over Mariners goalkeeper Jesse Giordano.
Waire, meanwhile, was busy running Staples off the ball.
"I moved back earlier this season against Mercy's top scorer [Robyn DePasquale]," said Waire, "so I expected I would be marking Thori in this game."
"Suzie had Thori frustrated," said Binder. "Suzie is not afraid to use her elbows."
Indeed, Staples and Waire tangled arms or legs several times during the rugged match and when Staples did escape Waire's shadow, Binder or Shelly Klaes quickly moved to help out.
Although Staples got off several hard shots, they were easily handled by Loch Raven keeper Sara Lee Seeger (five saves).
After Robyn Harry added Loch Raven's second goal on a rebound, two minutes into the second half, the Raiders pulled back and concentrated on defense to secure their 14th straight victory. Joppatowne ended its season at 10-4.
Loch Raven now advances to next week's state semifinals. Pairings will be announced Monday, but as top seed, the Raiders will draw the fourth-seeded team.
Waire and Binder are state tourney veterans. Both went to the state finals three years ago. After bowing out of the regionals as sophomores, they were back to the state semifinals last season. And both have played on three straight state lacrosse championship teams.
"They are so coachable," said Raiders assistant coach Lou Menegatti. "They are willing to try anything you ask them to do. It has been a pleasure working with them."
Here are highlights of other girls soccer games:
* In Class 1A-2A, Hammond edged Oakland Mills, 3-2, in Region I as Lauren Choate, Elizabeth Bieldfeld and Samantha Andersch each scored . . . In Region IV, Wilde Lake blanked Mount Hebron, 2-0, behind goals by Natalie Froman and Renita Young.
* In Class 3A-4A, Old Mill stopped Eleanor Roosevelt, 4-0, as Teri Bogle paced the attack with two goals and two assists in the Region II finals.
* In the girls Catholic League Tournament, St. Mary's got two goals from Mo McDonough and downed Spalding, 3-0. The tourney continues Monday with semifinals at Patterson Park's Utz Twardowicz Stadium.
In boys soccer action yesterday:
* Centennial got by Atholton in the state Class 3A, Region III finals, winning the double-overtime shootout, 4-3. The two teams had played to a 3-3 standoff during the regular season. Centennial's Cullen Meade, who had accidentally headed in a goal for Atholton during regulation time, scored the deciding penalty kick for the victory.
* In the MSA B Conference soccer semifinals, Southern's David Gurry scored both goals in a 2-0 victory over Park and Lutheran upset Poly, 2-0. The Engineers had gone 10-0 in the regular conference season. Lutheran (13-4-1 overall) will face Southern on Nov. 10 (noon) at Essex Community College for the championship.
In key football action yesterday:
* No. 4-ranked C. Milton Wright secured at least a share of the Harford County title, downing Joppatowne, 25-8. The passing combination of Jeff Hawk to Mike Weichert connected six times for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
The Mustangs (7-0, 9-0) need only defeat Fallston next week to secure the county championship over Aberdeen (6-1, 8-1).
* No. 5 Overlea (8-0, 9-0) defeated Loch Raven, 34-7, and coupled with Towson's 34-12 loss to Chesapeake-BC, earned the Baltimore County 1A-2A championship. Quarterback Bernard Fitchette paced Overlea with three touchdowns and Lamar King led Chesapeake with four touchdowns.