By Matt Owings, firstname.lastname@example.org
9:15 AM EDT, October 7, 2013
I’d like to start this week with an apology to Atholton and Oakland Mills, because I inexplicably left them off last week’s power rankings. Rest assured this omission was not for any particular reason other than my own mistake, and I promise it won’t happen again.
Speaking of the Raiders, Friday’s victory over surging Wilde Lake could be one of the biggest statement wins of the season. The Wildecats looked poised to gain ground in the county after a win over Reservoir earlier in the week. A win over Atholton would have caused waves to roll through these rankings.
After talking to multiple coaches, it’s clear that the county could be more competitive than ever.
Nobody is safe, and therein lies all the fun.
As always, I love hearing the response after the rankings are released. Make sure to follow @MattOwings for girls soccer updates throughout the week and “Like” Howard County Times Sports on Facebook (yes, we changed our name) for complete county coverage.
1. River Hill (6-0-1 county, 6-3-1 overall)
The Hawks have done nothing but win in county games since 2011. That streak ended Friday under the lights, as visiting Centennial forced a scoreless tie against the county’s best team. Following the game, Hawks coach Brian Song said it was “back to the drawing board,” as River Hill prepares to finish the last two weeks of the season strong. One bright spot in Friday’s match was Hawks’ keeper Julia Caine, who notched 12 saves in the draw.
Despite the tie, River Hill is still undefeated in the county, and therefore the No. 1 team in this week’s power rankings.
2. Centennial (5-1-1, 7-1-1)
I spoke with Eagles coach Steve Baxter following Friday’s tie with River Hill. Although it wasn’t a win, I figured the four-year coach would be excited to play such a competitive game with the county’s best team.
“I’m still not satisfied,” he said, adding that he thought his team was good enough to beat the Hawks.
Still, the Eagles’ only loss came nearly two weeks ago at the hands of Wilde Lake. Since then, Centennial has played solid ball, and there’s no reason why they don’t deserve the second spot on this list.
3. Marriotts Ridge (5-1-1, 8-1-1)
On Tuesday, the Mustangs out-shot River Hill in a 2-0 losing effort. Though they created more chances, it was the Hawks that ultimately capitalized when it mattered most. It is for this reason that the Mustangs fall down one spot in the rankings, although second and third are nearly interchangeable at this point in the season.
Coach Robin Grey has her girls playing with a lot of “heart,” something that her players echo to me following almost every game.
Look for Thursday’s match-up at Centennial to be an important one, as these two squads are playing virtually identical styles of soccer right now.
4. Wilde Lake (4-2-1, 4-3-2)
The Wildecats could easily be the No. 2 team on this list, especially following a huge win against Reservoir. Dropping Friday’s contest to Atholton, however, brings them back down to earth just a touch. This is the second week in a row that the Wildecats take down a top opponent early in the week, only to lose their following game.
Keep your eyes on Monday’s match-up with Mt. Hebron, as the Vikings are not a team to take lightly.
The Wildecats are a very solid team, and when they play their best game, they are capable of playing with the top teams in the county. (See 9/24 win vs. Centennial).
5. Reservoir (4-3, 7-3)
The Gators are another team that is on the cusp of something great. Their loss early last week to Wilde Lake could have set them back, but a rebound 4-0 win over a streaking Howard put them back in motion.
Coach Josh Sullivan said Thursday that he’s interested to see how his team responds. He’ll find out Tuesday, when the Gators play at Oakland Mills.
Teams on the rise:
Mt. Hebron (5-2, 6-2)
The only reason the Vikings are not ahead of Reservoir on these rankings is based on a Sept. 27 loss against the Gators. Though the Vikings have one more win than the Gators, that close game gives Reservoir a slight edge. Hebron has a chance to shake things up Monday, when it faces Wilde Lake. This very well could be the last week the Vikings find themselves on the outside looking in.
Atholton (4-3, 4-4)
The win against Wilde Lake gives the Raiders something to use as motivation heading into the last two weeks of the regular season.
Howard (3-4, 4-4)
Losing 4-0 to Reservoir hurt, but I still wouldn’t count the Lions out down the stretch. Katie Cocozza has been known to step up in big games. She tallied a goal in the Lions’ win against Wilde Lake.
Long Reach (2-5, 3-5)
It seems that the Lightning is always close to breaking off on a big winning streak. Two tough games against Marriotts Ridge and Centennial back-to-back had to take a toll. It should be fun to see how Long Reach responds this week against Howard and Reservoir.
Teams on the bubble:
Glenelg (2-5, 2-8)
Oakland Mills (0-7, 1-8)
Hammond (0-7, 1-7)
Glenelg Country School (7-1 in league play, 8-1 overall)
Chapelgate Christian Academy (0-4-2, 2-4-2)