With two games left in the regular season, Hammond's girls soccer team controls its own destiny in the race for the county title.
The sixth-ranked Golden Bears (11-0-1 overall, 7-0 league) can clinch at least a tie for the title with a win today over visiting Wilde Lake (3-8-1, 2-5).
No. 12-ranked River Hill (9-3, 6-1) and No. 15 Mount Hebron (9-3, 6-1) still are in the championship hunt. The Hawks play host to Atholton (1-11, 0-7), and the Vikings travel to No. 14 Centennial (8-4, 5-2) in games today.
Fittingly, the last day of the season will determine the county championship. River Hill, the defending county champion, visits Hammond for a 3 p.m. game with everything on the line. Mount Hebron will entertain Oakland Mills.
Depending on the results, the county title could go to one, two or three teams.
Hammond has had more success against River Hill than any other county team. Two years ago, the Golden Bears lost 2-0 to River Hill in the regular season, then stunned the Hawks with a shootout win in the regional playoffs. In the regional game, Hammond, which finished eighth in the county standings, scored twice in the final 10 minutes to send the game into overtime.
Last year, River Hill was on its way to an undefeated county season when Hammond, in the regular season's last game, beat the Hawks, 3-2, in overtime. River Hill went on the share the Class 2A-3A state title with South River.
Mount Hebron coach Jonathan Davis, whose team lost to Hammond, 5-1, and beat River Hill, 4-2, thinks the Hawks will be tough to beat if they score first. But he was very impressed by the way Hammond, with 12 seniors, plays.
"Hammond has a bunch of girls who are above-average soccer players, not superstars, that play as a team," Davis said. "They are good, hard-working athletes."
An earlier report that Hammond had won only one county soccer title, in 1985, was untrue. Dave Guetler, who coached at Hammond from 1988-95 (72-39-5, including state championships in 1989 and 1991) said the Golden Bears and Centennial tied for the county title in 1992.
"In 1992, I had my best team," said Guetler, who coaches at Howard. "We had beaten Centennial, but in the last game, we lost to Oakland Mills, 1-0, in the last five seconds. We played Oakland Mills in the regionals and lost in a shootout that many called the greatest game ever. It was a great game."
County champion Centennial (12-2 overall, 9-0 league) got a first-half goal from Jessica Manzone yesterday and finished the regular season with a 1-0 victory over host Glenelg. The Eagles defense, led by goalie Donna Boccuzzi, allowed only one goal against county teams.
Centennial coach Gail Purcell, whose 1995 team won Howard County's only state field hockey title, is 197-67-18 over 22 seasons. Her teams have won seven county titles.
Hammond (9-2-1 overall, 7-2 league) and Mount Hebron (9-5, 7-2) tied for second, followed by River Hill (7-6-1, 5-4), Long Reach (7-7, 5-4), Wilde Lake (7-7, 4-5), Glenelg (5-8-1, 4-5), Howard (3-9, 3-6), Oakland Mills (1-10-1, 1-8) and Atholton (0-12, 0-9).
Wilde Lake, under first-year coach Laurie Donnelly, had a chance for its first winning record in the county since 1993 but was stopped by Howard, 3-1, yesterday. Lauren Cahill had all three goals for the Lions. Overall, the Wildecats have won four more games than last year, and the Lions have won two more.
Atholton lost, 1-0, yesterday at Long Reach and ended the regular season without scoring. The Raiders dropped their last four games by 1-0 scores.
Regional playoffs begin Tuesday. Centennial and River Hill are in the Class 2A West, along with defending state champion Bethesda-Chevy Chase, ranked No. 3 in the Washington area, and Francis Scott Key. Centennial is No. 9 and Key is No. 5 in The Sun poll. Other teams in the West are Middletown, Urbana, Walkersville, Einstein, Northwest and Rockville.
Mount Hebron, Long Reach, Howard and Atholton are in the Class 2A South along with Franklin, Owings Mills, Lackey and McDonough. Wilde Lake is the Class 3A West, joining North Carroll, South Carroll, Liberty, Woodlawn, Catonsville and Broadneck.
Here's a reminder that the draw for the fall postseason tournaments in volleyball, soccer and field hockey will be Sunday at Long Reach.
The field hockey draw starts at noon; volleyball at 1: 30 p.m.; and soccer at 3 p.m.
All draws should be available Monday on the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Web page (www.mpssaa. org).
Pub Date: 10/23/98