Another look at strangeness in post-season sports

When good teams go bad

November 17, 2011

I started writing my own headlines about five months ago when The Aegis switched to a different operating program, and I have to say, unless it's been changed in the mean time, the one above this column is my favorite so far. It sounds like something you'd hear before some trashy, Real T.V. show which features first-hand footage of riots: "When Good Crowds Turn Bad."

Anyway, this installment is a continuation of last week's, in which I talked about how post-season play often has strange effects on the teams lucky enough to be playing in it, and that causes some strange results. I was reminded of this again on Saturday afternoon, when I watched the Class 3A girls soccer state semifinal game between Urbana and C. Milton Wright.

CMW, reigning UCBAC champ, 3A North titlist and holder of a 14-4 record, looked to me like the better, more prepared team in the semifinal, and I say that with the utmost honestly (I have not interest in selling papers by coddling the hometown readers). After a scoreless first half, which saw the Mustangs come up short on a handful of scoring opportunities, I wrote, "just a matter of time now," meaning it would not be long before the Mustang offense cracked through and scored, like it did in the final six minutes of the 3A North title game, which CMW won 1-0. Urbana had one player, a striker, who was the equal of anyone on the field in speed and skill, but besides her, I thought CMW outmatched the Hawks at just about every other position.

In the game's 74th minute, while I was preparing to watch a pair of scoreless sudden death periods and a deciding penalty shootout, pessimist that I am, Urbana flipped everything on me, taking advantage of a CMW miscue to score the game's only goal. Just like that, the Mustangs go home one stop short of the state title game. So long, do not press reset, see you again next year, girls.

Though I wouldn't put them in the realm of strange or surprising, the losses of Fallston and Patterson Mill in their 2A East football semifinal games last Friday are good indicators of how much the level of play jumps up once the playoffs start. Fallston, entering the post-season after one of the most successful campaigns in its history (9-1, with the only loss coming in week-10 to Aberdeen), was pasted 38-15 by Wicomico, while Patterson Mill, which had also wrapped up with its best record ever (9-1), lost to Kent Island, 28-19. That's two teams with a combined record of 18-4 getting knocked off at the first rung. Of course, Wicomico and Kent Island had a combined record of 20-2 heading into the semifinals.

On the other side of the coin, sometimes you aren't surprised at all by the outcome of a playoff game, and the result of Saturday's 1A field hockey state title matchup was not a shocker, as Fallston defeated Pocomoke, 4-2, to capture its 13th state title. Pocomoke, the winner of the 1A crown eight years running and a 17-time state champ, did not have much of a chance, if you ask me. Though they did allow two goals in the final 10 minutes, the Cougars had the easiest ride I've seen in a state final (maybe besides CMW baseball's 2010 3A title win).

Ending factoid: At Washington College in Chestertown on Saturday, where the four state field hockey title matchups were being contested, the four teams with the most championships were all involved in two games. Severna Park (20 titles) beat Bethesda-Chevy Chase (13 titles) 3-1 in the 4A game, while Fallston (13 titles) beat Pocomoke (17 titles).

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