For the quick, mobile, 3 No. 1s playing today Sightseeing: Timing will be important, but a sports fan can see top-ranked teams in girls and boys soccer and volleyball in Howard County action.

September 10, 1998|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Feel a little adventurous? Have a few gallons of gas in the car?

If you're game, if you go 110 percent and take it one direction at a time, you can watch three No. 1-ranked teams play today in Howard County. Here's how:

Head to River Hill, where its No. 1-ranked boys soccer team opens its season with a 3: 30 p.m. game against Liberty.

At the end of the first half, go directly to Mount Hebron, where its girls soccer team opens its season against top-ranked McDonogh. Because the girls game starts at 4 p.m., you should catch most, if not all, of the second half.

As soon as the girls soccer game is over, head directly -- that means not stopping at any fast-food joint on U.S. 40 -- to Centennial High.

There, in probably the day's best matchup, you'll find top-ranked Centennial opening its volleyball season against perennial power Northern-Calvert County at 5 p.m. But volleyball matches hardly ever start on time. And because this match easily could go five games, you should be able to catch plenty of action.

So it's possible. It's just a matter of staying focused and keeping to the game plan. Good luck.

River Hill's boys soccer team won the Class 2A state title last season and finished No. 1 in the final Sun poll. Led by junior Adom Crew, an All-Metro forward who had 16 goals last season, the Hawks have the talent and depth to repeat last year's success.

Mount Hebron's girls soccer team had a disappointing season last year, but a bright spot was a 2-1 overtime win at McDonogh in its second game.

McDonogh has looked very good in winning its first four games this season, including a 6-0 rout of Catholic League rival Catholic on Tuesday. The Eagles, who have three players (Kellan Hoover, Jamie Hupp and Katie Nelson) from Howard County, are led by Marissa Schuchat and Lisa Zanti. Zanti did not play in last year's game against the Vikings.

Mount Hebron coach Jonathan Davis said his team is anxious to start the season, and knows McDonogh will want some revenge.

"The first 20 minutes will tell a lot. If we stay tough, we'll be fine," said Davis, whose team will be wearing new home uniforms.

Centennial and Northern have two of the state's top volleyball programs. The top-ranked Eagles have won seven state titles (1989, 1991-94, 1996 and 1997) and Northern, ranked No. 4 in The Washington Post poll, has won five (1990, 1994-97). Last year, Centennial won the Class 2A title and Northern the Class 3A championship.

Centennial coach Mike Bossom is looking forward to starting the season, and he couldn't be happier that it's against a powerhouse such as Northern.

"We're playing good competition, and playing good competition makes you a better team," said Bossom, who has two starters returning. "They're going to come in and give us a good match, and we'll find out what we can do. One way or the other, we're going to learn something."

Both teams have graduated last year's star players -- Briana Zolak for Centennial, The Sun's All-Metro Player of the Year, and Beth Radford for Northern.

Northern coach Beth Incrocci, beginning her fourth season, said her team "still has a lot of growing to do. We're full of potential, but right now we're nowhere near the team we're going to be if we keep working hard."

Northern opened its season yesterday at Bowie, ranked No. 10 the Post's preseason poll. Like Bossom, Incrocci believes to be the best you have to play the best.

"The key is to play the best competition you can play," said Incrocci, whose team plays in the very competitive Southern Maryland Athletic Conference along with Calvert and Charles County's McDonough.

Northern's top players are senior middle hitter Sarah Haynes, junior setter Tera Blevins and junior outside hitter Katie Radford, Beth's sister.

"We have a much more well-rounded offense than in the past," said Incrocci. "We're working on our defense."

Pub Date: 9/10/98

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