Arundel's offense hits empty

road ends in East final defeat, 2-0

Thomas Johnson shuts `our forwards down,' earns 3rd straight region title

Class 4A girls soccer

High Schools

November 07, 2001|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Arundel's bid for its first trip to the girls soccer state semifinals in five years ended almost 40 miles short of the destination.

The sixth-ranked Wildcats picked the worst time to suffer a lapse in its attack, falling, 2-0, to visiting Thomas Johnson in the Class 4A East Regional final in Gambrills last night.

The Patriots of Frederick County grabbed their third consecutive regional crown - the program's first in 4A since moving up from 3A after last season - and will move on to Walt Whitman either Friday or Saturday to meet the winner of the Whitman-Watkins Mills matchup in the West Region.

Arundel finished its season with a 14-4 record and a berth in the county championship game. But the Wildcats were plagued by a season-long problem: finding ways to score when the opponent's defense is just as good as Arundel's offense.

The Wildcats were outshot 15-9 by Thomas Johnson, which also enjoyed a 6-0 advantage in corner kicks.

"They shut our forwards down," said Arundel coach Tom Degner, who noted that three of the team's four losses have been by shutout. "We knew that if they held us, we would have a tough time."

Part of the problem was the Patriots' defensive strategy of lining up four - sometimes five - players on the back line. That ploy helped Thomas Johnson (15-3) provide double coverage on the Wildcats' scoring trio of senior striker Jessica Upchurch, sophomore striker Alli Wilkerson and sophomore Melissa Hornfeck, who combined to post 53 of the team's 71 goals.

"They play pretty deep," said senior midfielder Rachel Moreland, who added that the tactic made it very difficult to send a long ball to the Arundel forwards. "We wanted to chip it high, but it wasn't happening."

That left the game in the hands of the Patriots' offense, which found its groove in the second half. Just 44 seconds in, junior defender and former gymnast Christine Jodrie executed one of her patented front-somersault throw-ins and launched a perfect ball to senior midfielder Liz Specht, who headed the ball into the net for a 1-0 lead.

Specht scored her second goal of the game 19 minutes later. Freshman midfielder Kristin Kremers trapped a poor outlet pass and tapped the ball to Specht, who floated it from 25 yards away over Arundel senior goalkeeper Katie Wagner (six saves) and into the top right corner.

Thomas Johnson senior keeper Amy Franciscovich needed to register just five saves to record her 13th shutout of the season and the 46th of her career - just four shy of a state record.

"We're very fortunate in that we're blessed with an unbelievable defensive presence," said Patriots coach Chuck Nichols. "They got a few looks. ... We bent, but didn't break."

Class 2A

Bethesda-Chevy Chase 1, Southern-Anne Arundel 0: The Barons' Michelle Dellre scored the game's only goal midway through the first half to end the Bulldogs' season in the South Regional final at Northwood Center in Bethesda.

Dellre intercepted an outlet pass and lobbed the ball over the head of Southern senior goalkeeper Stephanie Thompson for the game-winning goal. Bethesda-Chevy Chase will meet Eastern Tech at a site and time to be determined.

"It took us a while to get adjusted," said Bulldogs coach John Sis, whose team (7-8) was playing in its first regional final in school history. "We used to get knocked out in the second round. Getting to the finals for the first time was a huge step for the whole program."

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