Future Joppatowne girls soccer teams should be forgiven if they talkof avoiding Loch Raven in regional playoffs.
Goals by Heidi Binder and Robyn Harry helped host Loch Raven eliminate the Mariners, 2-0,in the final of the Class 1A-2A Region III playoffs Thursday.
Last year Joppatowne reached the final of the regional playoff only to be eliminated by Loch Raven in a 3-2 game.
Joppatowne coach Dwayne Noe dismissed the notion that Loch Raven is becoming a nemesis.
"They just outplayed us today," he said. "Any day, any team can win. It just happened to be their day."
The squads brought impressive credentials into the regional playoff. In compiling a 10-3 record, Joppatowne, Harford County co-champion with C. M. Wright, had outscored opponents 41-15 for the season. They recorded six shutouts.
The Raiders, Baltimore County champs, ran up a 13-0 record, shutting out eight opponents.
Loch Raven outshot the Mariners, 12-10, in thegame, but those two extra shots loomed large.
The Raiders took a 1-0 lead at about the 17-minute mark of the first half when Binder connected on a shot from about 25 yards out that just eluded the outstretched arms of Mariner goalie Jessie Giordano.
The Raiders struck again just 1:37 into the second half when a shot deflected off Giordano. Harry was there to punch the ball in, sending the score up to 2-0.
"We weren't aggressive. We didn't play our game," said Joppatowne's star player, Thori Staples. "It was just total kickball out there."
As was the case in last year's playoff bout, Staples was shadowed all over the field the entire game by Loch Raven halfback Suzy Waire.
Staples, the state's third-highest scorer this season with 25,was limited to four shots the entire game.
"She's a good player. She was really determined," said Waire. "But we had a lot of help on defense."
Indeed they did. Whenever Staples touched the ball, the Raiders double- and triple-teamed her, forcing her to give up the ball or go wide to get free.
"We knew that in order to beat them, Suzy was going to have to mark her all over the field," said Loch Raven assistant coach Lou
Menegatti. Noe said the Raider's defensive strategy was something Joppatowne has come to expect from virtually every opponent.
"Every team in the state does that. It's nothing new,"he said.
For the first half at least, Joppatowne appeared to havethe upper hand. They outshot the Raiders, 7-5, in the first half andhad several good scoring chances.
At the eight-minute mark of thefirst half, Staples broke free of Waire and angled a shot that was stopped by Raider goalie Sarilee Seeger.
Three minutes later CrissyMaly had an even better opportunity on a breakaway down the left side, but her shot sailed over the goal.
Near the end of the half, the Mariners again had several opportunities but failed to convert.
At the 27-minute mark, Maly had another clear shot that just sailed wide. A moment later, Staples broke free for a shot just outside the box from the right side, but the ball landed just wide.
After they scored in the second half, the Raiders stayed back in their half of the field, denying the Mariners any clear shots on goal.
"We playedtheir game," said Staples. "If we had played our game, we could havewon."