Usually when Lafayette High coach Brian Sorrell wants to know something about Group AA boys soccer in the northern part of the state, Dave Gryder is his go-to guy. They were high school soccer teammates in the early 1990s at Stonewall Jackson High in Manassas.
Sorrell said he won't even try to pump Gryder for intel this year. Gryder is, after all, the coach at Tuscarora, the Loudoun County school Sorrell's Rams (18-0-1) host 7 p.m. Tuesday in a Group AA state tournament quarterfinal at Wanner Stadium.
If Sorrell is looking for a source on the Huskies (20-1-2), he might be better off asking Jamestown coach Bobby O'Brien, whose team the Rams beat in a penalty-kick shootout last week to earn the state bid. Jamestown beat Tuscarora 4-3 with a late goal in a thrilling AA state championship game a year ago.
The Huskies return many of their key players from that game, including Angel Ceron Garcia, who scored two goals in the state title game and has netted 22 this season. Sergio Resendiz, who scored the other goal against Jamestown, also is back.
"Dave is a class act, a stand-up guy who really knows a lot about soccer," said Sorrell, who played on Stonewall Jackson's football offensive line with Gryder's brother Tom, before playing football at William and Mary. "He was a striker, a guy who always wanted the ball when we were on the field, and he made honorable mention all-state his senior year.
"I think what you're going to see on Tuesday is a classic offense versus defense matchup."
The coaches mirror their teams in that way. While Gryder played up front in high school seeking out goals, Sorrell was a defender.
Lafayette paved its road to the state tournament for the first time in nine years by shutting out its past nine opponents. Emery Trott leads the Rams with 10 goals and nine assists, but the Rams' sweeper is arguably more valuable for his defensive prowess and excellence in the air.
Alex Emerson has made clutch save after clutch save in the shutout string, the game-winning stop in penalties against Jamestown coming on the heels of two more spectacular saves early in the game. Denzel Speed and the Vacarro brothers, Anthony and Andrew, give the Rams' defense a combination of speed and physicality to complement All-Region I first-team selections Trott and Emerson.
They figure to face their biggest challenge to date against a Tuscarora team that pressured the Briar Woods goal regularly in the Region II final, but finished on the short end of a 2-1 score to lose for the first time this season.
"Patience," Sorrell said, will be the key because Tuscarora likes to build its attack on the ground with lots of quick touches, as opposed to numerous Bay Rivers teams that attack with the long ball through the air.
"We played against a lot of quality soccer teams in the Bay Rivers, have seen a lot of situations and are a fast-paced team, so we'll know how to react," Sorrell said. "We've played twice against (Tabb's) Reilly Maw, who's a heck of a player and we held him in check.
"I think it's huge that we're playing at home, because the seniors realize, no matter what, this is their last time at Wanner Stadium."
Three other Bay Rivers District teams will compete in the state quarterfinals on Tuesday. Below is a brief look at those games.
Woodgrove (17-7) at Warhill (20-4), 6:30 p.m.
Outlook: Woodgrove's varsity lost 10 of 15 players as fallout from violation of school policy earlier this season, and had to consolidate with the junior varsity to field a full team. One of the holdovers is right-hander Kaleb Bowman, a sophomore who already has committed to South Carolina.
Bowman pitched a three-hitter in the 2-0 Region II semifinal win over Potomac Falls that advanced Woodgrove to state. This game has all the makings of a pitchers' duel, as the Lions will start ace Michael Brumfield, the Bay Rivers District Player of the Year, who is 11-1.
Tabb (16-7) at Woodgrove (24-2), 6 p.m.
Outlook: The Tigers face a huge task against the defending state champ and finalist the past two seasons. The Wolverines' pitching depth is ridiculous, with Jazmyn Rohrer and Corinne Vennitti giving up one hit combined in 18 innings in the Region II semifinal and championship games.
Tabb's Kayla St. John, a .500 hitter and standout at third base and pitcher, was selected the Region I Player of the Year on Monday.
"We feel like we've faced some of the best pitching in the state already, and that we can rise to the occasion," Tabb coach Ashley Meredith said.
Jamestown (17-1-2) at Briar Woods (17-4-1), 7:30 p.m.
Jamestown, back in the state tournament after a year's absence, plays on the road after losing 2-1 at Courtland on Friday in the Region I final. Region II champion Briar Woods features a dynamic freshman midfielder, Rayven Conner, with nine goals and 20 assists.
"We're disappointed not to be playing at home," Eagles co-coach Kevin Dawson said. "But we're happy to still be playing and we hopeful of still playing after tomorrow."
Jamestown at Handley, 2 p.m.
The Eagles face no easy task in Winchester against the Judges, who beat Briar Woods for the Region II championship. Handley is a traditional AA power, but this was the Judges' first region title since 2005.
Jamestown learned from its early-season defeats against strong programs and, as usual, went through Bay Rivers play without a team loss. But the Eagles, for the second year in a row, fell victim to James Monroe in the Region I championship match, losing a highly competitive 5-2 match as JM pulled out grueling three-set victories at Nos. 5 and 6.
Handley is led by Region II champion doubles pair Parker Wilson and Taylor Watts. Jamestown didn't come too close to making an impact in the individual playoffs but is solid up and down the lineup with Sam Ross, Mike Jones, Austrian exchange student Fabian Schleicher, Derrick Neilson, Rohan Kohli and Brad Mahaffey.
Handley at Jamestown, 2 p.m.
This is the second year in a row that quarterfinal matches pit teams from different regions, and the second time Coach Karen Johnson's Eagles are home against the Region II runner-up. They won a year ago over Fauquier and seem primed for a repeat Tuesday.
Looking to get past their recent hurdle of the semifinals, Jamestown -- which has won its region for five consecutive years -- looks to have no weakness in the lineup. Senior Leah Walter rolled through the Region I singles tournament; her freshman sister Anna easily gained singles runner-up honors in that event; and Elizabeth Wallace, Kathy Sharp, Sarah Reso and Katie Hunt have been sharp at Nos. 3-6.
Handley's girls earned their way to state for the first time since 2010 by beating Briar Woods 5-3 in a rain-delayed Region II semifinal that took seven hours and finished indoors.
Jessie Nolan and Kathryn Bock, the Region II champion doubles team, lead the Judges. Potentially, a matchup of the Walter sisters against Nolan and Bock could be a preview of the Group AA doubles final.
Bay Rivers teams in Group AA state quarterfinals
Baseball: Woodgrove (17-7) at Warhill (20-4), 6:30 p.m.
Softball: Tabb (16-7) at Woodgrove (24-2), 6 p.m.
Boys soccer: Tuscarora (20-1-2) at Lafayette (18-0-1), 7 p.m. at Wanner Stadium
Girls soccer: Jamestown (17-1-2) at Briar Woods (17-4-1), 7:30 p.m.
Girls tennis: Handley at Jamestown, 2 p.m.
Boys tennis: Jamestown at Handley, 2 p.m.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun