Severna Park primed for Centennial test

November 13, 1992|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff Writer

When Chesapeake girls soccer coach Lin Sullivan evaluated the four teams in the Class 4A-3A, Region II playoffs last week, he said Severna Park was "the hottest one out there."

It didn't matter that his Cougars were the top seed, one place ahead of the Falcons. He knew Severna Park was the team everyone wanted to avoid.

And now, the Falcons are Centennial's problem.

The squads meet at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow in the state 4A-3A semifinals at Severna Park High. The Falcons (12-1-1) are the top seed this time, and Centennial (13-1) is fourth.

"We peaked at the perfect time," said Severna Park assistant coach Chuck Seivert.

The Falcons aren't the only team on a roll, however.

The Eagles, defending 4A-3A state champions, are ranked No. 1 in the metro area. They returned seven starters and 12 lettermen from last year's team, including senior striker Vicky Brunt (15 goals, 10 assists) and senior midfielder Natalie Rich (seven, two) -- both All-Metro picks last season.

"It should be a good game," said Centennial coach Rick Pizarro. "I don't expect the weather to be too good, but that won't deter my girls."

Few things do.

You want scoring? Centennial does plenty -- 61 goals in 14 games. And its defense has six straight shutouts, including 5-0 wins over Eleanor Roosevelt and Bowie in the region playoffs.

"The kids in the back think it's sinful to give up a goal," Pizarro said.

Last year, Centennial outscored opponents, 64-10, and Pizarro said in September that he thought this team was better. A knee injury to striker Mary Ellen Carullo in the second game "changed the complexion of the team," he said, but freshman Michelle Clare has responded with 11 goals and seven assists.

Senior midfielder Kelly Butler (seven, five) and senior striker/midfielder Alison Lages (five, three) also must be watched closely.

Severna Park's defense, led by junior fullback Carrie Budzinski, could be up to the challenge. The Falcons have allowed just eight goals this season, and freshman keeper Shannon Chaney had enough poise to come up with some crucial stops in a 3-2 shootout victory over Old Mill in the region semifinals.

"I play with some of their girls during [Washington Area Girls Soccer], and I know what they can do and what they're capable of," said junior midfielder Shelley Seivert. "We'll just try to shut down everything they do."

Chuck Seivert said: "I know they're ready to play against Centennial. We're not cocky or anything, we don't think we're going to walk through anything, but we'll accept the challenge. We're excited about having the challenge."

So is Centennial.

Pizarro said he has an "extensive scouting report" on the Falcons after seeing them earlier this year in a 5-1 rout of Old Mill. "We recognize their style and we're prepared for it. My girls seem pretty confident," he said.

"It looks like we have more strikers than they do. And our goalie [junior Laura Bradburn] might be superior to theirs in technique."

Chaney became the Falcons' starting keeper midway through the season, and Chuck Seivert said, "She is probably one of the best goalies in the state of Maryland."

The Falcons have one of the elite forwards in senior Stephanie Roberts, the county's leading scorer with 21 goals and five assists. But in last year's state semifinals, Centennial was able to shut down Old Mill forwards Michelle Salmon, Teri Lee and Terri Bogle -- who had combined for 45 goals -- in a 4-0 win.

"I guess I can expect to be marked. I'll just have to deal with it," Roberts said.

"But if they mark me, it opens up other people on the team. There's more balance on this team than people realize. It's not just one person scoring."

Shelley Seivert (nine, eight) is especially dangerous on direct kicks. Freshman Lindsey Poland has eight goals and two assists.

"Against Broadneck the other night [a 3-0 win in the region finals], they started beating Steph up a lot," said Chuck Seivert, "and all of a sudden, my daughter cranks one in, Lindsey scores. We have multiple kids who can score."

Despite the seedings, the Falcons recognize that they are the underdogs in tomorrow's game. For a program that won three consecutive state championships before losing in the region playoffs last year, it's an unusual role.

"This feels totally different," said Shelley Seivert. "No one expects you to win, and when you do, it's great. It's an exciting thing."

Playoff site change

Tomorrow's state Class 4A-3A girls soccer semifinals have been moved to Severna Park High. The games originally were scheduled for Glen Burnie High.

Second seed Dulaney and third seed South Carroll will meet at 5:30 p.m., followed by the game between top seed Severna Park and fourth seed Centennial.

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