Field hockey bracket pairs many rivals

1st winning season within reach for Liberty football


High Schools

October 19, 2003|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Several of Carroll County's strongest field hockey teams are likely to butt heads this week as the regional playoffs begin.

Five of the county's seven teams reside in the Class 2A West region, and all will get first-round byes.

Three of those teams - top-seeded South Carroll, second seed Century and fourth seed Francis Scott Key - will open at home Thursday against Rockville, Liberty and Walkersville, respectively. Winters Mill will travel to Middletown.

The bracket raises some intriguing possibilities, such as a regional semifinal clash between No. 6 South Carroll, last year's Class 3A state champion, and No. 12 Francis Scott Key, or a regional final between either of those teams and Century.

"We're really looking forward to possibly playing South Carroll again," said Century coach Heather Arnold, whose team lost to South Carroll, 3-0, earlier this season before defeating Francis Scott Key.

Arnold said that playing familiar opponents will be an advantage, since "we know what to expect from each team." Following last year's 4-10 season, being seeded so high is also an emotional boost to the 8-4 Knights.

"The girls really were excited to see that we were seeded second in our bracket," said Arnold.

In other classes, third-seeded North Carroll will open with a bye before meeting either Seneca Valley or Wheaton in the Class 3A West quarterfinals. And in Class 4A West, fourth-seeded Westminster will travel to No. 3 seed Churchill.

Liberty turnaround

Despite Thursday's 20-19 loss to North Carroll, the Liberty football team still has a shot at its first winning season since 2000 after winning just one game a year ago.

The Lions sit at 3-4, with games against Frederick and Westminster, which have a combined record of 4-10.

Coach Marty Brennan said that his team's turnaround can be attributed, in large part, to the amount of time his players spent in the weight room during the offseason.

"Even though we have a lot of sophomores and juniors in key positions, just about every kid who's a starter has worked pretty diligently in the weight room since pretty much the week after last football season," said Brennan.

Brennan, who served as an assistant coach at Liberty for six years before taking over the program last season, compared the work ethic of this year's squad to that of the Lions' 2000 team, which went 8-2.

"That's an example of another group that did the same thing," Brennan said. "They bought into the mind-set as ninth-graders that lifting weight will not only give you physical strength, but will give you that mental edge that a lot of times football players really need."

Brennan said that the goal is to create an atmosphere where success breeds success.

"We've been so inconsistent over the past several years that it's difficult to draw kids away from other sports," he said. "Like it or not, kids want to win. We're trying to establish those expectations and create a winning environment."

Playoff picture

South Carroll and Francis Scott Key began last week tied for third place in the hunt for the Class 2A West football playoffs.

Following Thursday night's games, however, that picture is expected to change somewhat.

South Carroll (6-1) scored 34 points in the first quarter at Century on its way to a 55-21 win. Running back Brad Mayr scored three first-half touchdowns for the Cavaliers.

Francis Scott Key (5-2), however, allowed more than 500 yards of offense in a 45-8 loss to Walkersville. It was the Eagles' second loss in three weeks.

The Cavaliers may be in prime position for a trip to the postseason now, but their schedule is about to become much tougher, facing Walkersville (6-1) and Catoctin, which entered this weekend with one loss.

County champs

Several Carroll teams have clinched county championships, while others sit in prime position to do just that.

Among those that have clinched are the Century girls soccer team, which went unbeaten in county play and will begin the hunt for its second straight Class 2A state title this weekend. Another state champ, South Carroll field hockey, also has clinched in the county.

The Westminster golf team secured its county title on Thursday, completing an unbeaten season with a 208-231 win over Century.

Four-time defending county volleyball champion Liberty sits alone in first place, but still has key county matches remaining against Westminster and South Carroll, both at home.

The title in boys soccer will be decided this week when Liberty and Westminster (both 3-0-1 in county play) complete their suspended game with Liberty leading 1-0. A tie could lead to a three-way tie at the top with Century.

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