Big finishes turn tide for Centennial, Oakland Mills Eagles, Scorps in hunt for titles despite bad starts

November 17, 1995|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Five games into the season, the girls soccer teams at Centennial and Oakland Mills had something in common, and it wasn't something to boast about.

The Eagles, who last year went 18-0 for their third state 3A-4A title in four years, stumbled to a 1-3-1 record. The Scorpions, who went 12-5-1 last year and lost in the 1A-2A state final, were 1-2-2.

But it's not how a team starts that counts, it's how it finishes. And in that regard, Centennial and Oakland Mills have something in common, something to boast about.

Today, both teams play for state titles.

No. 15 Oakland Mills (8-6-2) plays No. 9 Hereford (11-4-1) at 5 p.m. for the 1A-2A championship at North County High School. No. 2 Centennial (13-3-1), which upset then-No. 1 Fallston in the semifinals, plays No. 1 Severna Park (16-1-1) for the 3A-4A title at 7:30 also at North County.

"Centennial is Centennial. They always manage to come through and be there at the end," said Severna Park coach Joyce Stefancik, whose team defeated Centennial two years ago in the state semifinals. "I'm not surprised at all. For them to beat Fallston, they have to be a good team."

Severna Park passes the ball well and plays good defense. Goalie Shannon Chaney, who has 48 career shutouts, has 14 shutouts and has allowed only three goals. She has not allowed a postseason goal. Sweeper Jess Miller and midfielder Lindsey Poland, who scored in the Falcons' 2-0 semifinal win over Bowie, also are key players.

"They're a good team," said Centennial co-coach Kevin Flynn. "They can keep possession of the ball. They move the ball very well."

Flynn said his team's 1-0 win over Fallston "was the best we've played all year. Hopefully, we can continue to play like that."

The Eagles also have an excellent defense, led by goalie Rima Sidhu and sweeper Tania Riismandel. Sidhu has allowed only six goals, three of them in the first three games.

Centennial's offense, which had problems scoring early in the season, has played much better down the stretch. Junior midfielder Lauren Molinaro leads the team with 10 goals and senior forward Michelle Clare and freshman forward Jane Williams both have nine.

"Recently, we've been creating quality opportunities to score and have been able to finish them," said co-coach Dave Greenberg.

Greenberg said Molinaro's play has been a key in the playoffs.

"She has personally not allowed us to lose," he said. "She has just raised her game up a notch."

Another key for Centennial has been the strong play from its four freshmen. Williams, Alexia Vogler and Stacie Tokasz all start and Amanda Zachman gets a lot of playing time.

"We're a much better team then we were," Greenberg said. "We're more cohesive. People understand their roles and are playing together."

Oakland Mills, which defeated Hereford last year 1-0 on a Ginny Dye goal in the state semifinals, will face a strong defensive team. Hereford is led by goalie Kate MacFarlane, who has nine shutouts, and sweeper Kristy Kane.

"We're a defensively solid team," said Hereford coach Steve Power. "We have not been a strong offensive team. We try real hard to control the middle of the field."

Hereford's leading scorer is freshman Melissa Mueller with seven goals.

It took Oakland Mills 15 games to go over the .500 mark, but the Scorpions are on a roll with six straight victories.

"It took a lot of time to get our chemistry," said Dye, who leads the team with nine goals and seven assists. "But we played a tough schedule this year and we never lost a game by more than one goal. I think our record didn't show how well we were playing. We just had trouble scoring."

Oakland Mills coach Steve Matters, who changed his lineup often at the start of the season, is not surprised that the Scorpions are back in the title game for the third time in four years.

"I think we were capable of this all along," said Matters.

Sweeper Michelle Osterberger has played well recently, as have Dye, Noelle Brown, Leslie Miller, Rachel Wisniewski, Brie Warner, Stephanie Romich and goalie Nyiesha Ford.

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