(All games at UMBC)
No. 8 Howard (18-0) vs. No. 11 South River (16-2)
When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.
Outlook: Both teams come into the game with extra incentive, which adds to an already intriguing matchup. Howard is making its first state title game appearance and looks to avenge last year's 15-6 semifinal loss to South River. After the Seahawks handled the Lions, they were unsuccessful in defending their 2012 crown with a loss to Westminster in the final. The Lions are on a season-long mission that included their first Howard County crown in 23 years and a character-building 11-10 overtime win against defending state champion Westminster in the regional playoffs. They have a balanced attack, led by Scott Bruner (43 goals, 16 assists), with faceoff specialist John Travisano potentially giving them a big advantage against South River. The Seahawks are led by attackman Dylan Mansur, who finished with five goals and two assists in their 10-7 win over Wootton in the semifinals. The game was tied at 6 midway through the fourth quarter when the Seahawks took control. Experience could be a huge factor, and the Seahawks have that on their side. A winner of two state titles, this is their fourth straight title game appearance and fifth in six years.
No. 10 Hereford (17-3) vs. Kent Island (18-1)
When: Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Outlook: Can the Bulls' dynasty end Wednesday? A winner of six straight titles and nine overall, both state records, Hereford will have to pass a tough test in Kent Island to add to the record book. Determined senior classes have carried the Bulls throughout the run, and this one is once again stocked with talented players, led by attackman Jason Ashwood, midfielder Adam Ceribelli and goalie Brock Turnbaugh. In the semifinal round, the Bulls had to withstand a late push from Glenelg to come away with an 8-7 win. Ashwood finished with three goals and two assists, and Turnbaugh stopped 14 shots. Kent Island, from Queen Anne's County, has compiled an impressive resume, led by attackmen Matt Quinn and Johnny Giuffreda, and goalie Dylan Abplanalp. The Buccaneers have impressive wins over Severn, Arundel and Centennial, and their only loss was a closely contested 8-6 setback against No. 6 St. Mary's. This is the first state title game appearance for Kent Island after falling in the semifinal round the past three years. The Bulls' experience should serve them well early, and Turnbaugh could be the difference down the stretch.
No. 15 Fallston (14-4) vs. North Carroll (16-2)
When: Tuesday, 4 p.m.
Outlook: Fallston, the two-time defending champion, has experience on its side against state title game newcomer North Carroll, but not as much as you would think. The Cougars have received fine play up front from freshmen Ben Claffee and Dylan Wolf, who combined for five goals and four assists in Saturday's 16-6 semifinal win over Loch Raven. North Carroll has been methodically building toward this breakthrough season, with a strong senior class led by attackman Kyle Fiedler, who has simply been dominating in the postseason. With his seven-goal, four-assist performance in Friday's 17-9 semifinal win over North East, he now has 21 goals and 14 assists in four playoff wins. Luke Gonzalez and Connor Waskiewicz also score when opponents pay too close attention to Fiedler. Fallston, which is looking to win the program's fourth state crown, also has plenty of firepower with Steven Ernst and Nick Esser. With both teams boasting powerful attacks and a high-scoring game likely, winning possession will be vital in determining the outcome.
-- Glenn Graham