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Francis Scott Key’s boys soccer team started the season with a one-word motto designed to motivate and inspire.

The Eagles went with “Work,” and they went to work almost from the start. FSK won four of its first six games, knocked off Carroll County foes Liberty and Westminster, and posted a non-losing record heading into the playoffs.

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Key claimed its first regional title in 27 years two wins later.

The Eagles are one of three Carroll soccer teams preparing for the state tournament. Francis Scott Key (7-5-1) visits Benjamin Franklin of Baltimore City on Friday night at 6.

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association tweaked its playoff format this year and advanced the final four teams in each region to create state quarterfinals, then re-seeded them based on regular-season winning percentage (tournament games during the season didn’t count toward each team’s record).

In the 2A state quarterfinals, Century’s boys (11-4) visit Lansdowne on Friday at 5 p.m., and the top-seeded Knights girls (15-0) host Eastern Tech on Saturday at 2 at Western Regional Park.

Key’s boys traveled to Williamsport, where they fell in double overtime Sept, 12, to put in that “work” in Monday’s 1A West Region 1 final. The Eagles scored a goal within the first 30 seconds of the game and prevailed 3-2.

“We printed T-shirts with it. It’s been our calling,” said Eagles coach Larry Haines. "We don’t shout our school name in the huddle in the beginning or end of games. It’s all about work. We said we were going to work from the beginning to the end. It’s always kind of been symbolic for our high school, at least the program that I wanted to put together.

“We will battle from beginning to end regardless of whether we have the talent or not. And most teams recognize that when they play us.”

Francis Scott Key downed Liberty 3-1 on Sept. 19, handing the county champion Lions their lone loss during the regular season, and added a county victory over Westminster one week later. The 2-1 win gave the Eagles a 5-2-1 record, but they went 0-3-1 down the stretch before the postseason began.

Haines said FSK leaned on its senior class, 10 in all, to regroup.

“Seven of those seniors are starters,” the sixth-year coach said. “That surely helps. Such a tight bond with these seniors too. They’re best friends on and off the field. You don’t typically have that. ... Just hanging out and enjoying each other, and I think that has made it special.”

Carter Shipley, a junior forward, leads the Eagles in scoring with nine goals. Senior midfielder Jakub Mihulka (six, five) and sophomore forward Griffin Garvis (six, four) are close behind.

Century, back in the state tourney for the second time in three seasons, is facing a Lansdowne team making its first appearance. And the Knights likely won’t mind making the road trip to Baltimore County — they’re 7-0 away from home this season after taking out Liberty 2-0 on Tuesday to win the 2A West Region 1 crown.

Trey Howes, Century's boys soccer coach, holds a Class 2A regional championship plaque as he talks to his players following their 2-0 win over Liberty during a boys soccer playoff game at Liberty High School on Tuesday, October 29.
Trey Howes, Century's boys soccer coach, holds a Class 2A regional championship plaque as he talks to his players following their 2-0 win over Liberty during a boys soccer playoff game at Liberty High School on Tuesday, October 29. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

The Knights fell short of their goal to win a Carroll County Athletic League crown, but first-year coach Trey Howes, a Century alum, wasn’t ashamed of grabbing the regional championship plaque two weeks later.

“I’d rather have this than have that,” Howes said Tuesday. “We’ve been kind of road warriors, so we don’t care. Wherever they want us to play we’ll play, and we’ll bring it.”

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Senior midfielder Alex Grasso has 33 points (13 goals, seven assists) for the Knights, while senior foward Kyle Kropfelder has 30 points (10, 10). Century’s defense, anchored by senior Joe Bergamaschi, has six shutouts this fall.

The Knights are going for a boys-girls state title sweep. Century won the program’s third state crown in 2013, and reached the semifinals in 2017.

This year, the Knights’ offense features sophomore Haley Greenwade — the forward has 23 goals and 50 points. Meanwhile, their defense is stout with nine goals (six in two tournament games combined) allowed and 10 shutouts.

Grace Anderson, a senior, anchors the defense along with fellow senior Jordyn Vanarsdale (90.6 save percentage) in goal. Eastern Tech last reached the state tourney in 2010, and won a title in 2005.

The field hockey state quarterfinals are set to begin Friday, and Carroll has four teams trying to reach the final four.

Western Regional Park hosts two of those teams Friday at 3:30 p.m., with unbeaten Liberty (15-0) facing Kent County in a 1A quarterfinal and Westminster (11-5) squaring off with Rockville in a 3A quarterfinal.

The Lions eked out a 1-0 overtime victory Wednesday against South Carroll to win the 1A West Region 1 title. Junior Kayleigh Ward (10 goals) and senior Caroline Evans (nine) pace their offense, with senior Christine Goetz (15 points) manning the midfield.

The Owls took care of Mount Hebron in the 3A East Region 1 final for their 28th state tournament berth — second most in Maryland history. Senior Audrey Detrow has 10 goals and junior Kirby Henneman has 11.

Westminster players celebrate after they come away with a 2-0 shutout win over host, Mt. Hebron in a regional playoff game Wednesday night in Ellicott City.
Westminster players celebrate after they come away with a 2-0 shutout win over host, Mt. Hebron in a regional playoff game Wednesday night in Ellicott City. (Doug Kapustin / Carroll County Times)

Century (11-4) travels to Oakdale on Friday at 4 for a 2A state quarterfinal. The Knights edged Manchester Valley on Wednesday to win the 2A North 2 crown. Junior forward Emi Mower leads Century in scoring (10 goals, four assists), and sophomore midfield Mackenzie Feltz is next (five, six).

Feltz knocked in the game-winner against the Mavericks in the regional final.

Class 1A West Region 2 champ Francis Scott Key (10-3) takes a seven-game win streak into Saturday’s state quarterfinal at Patuxent at 5 p.m. The Eagles, led by senior forward Faith Haines’ 51 points (23 goals, five assists), have outscored their opponents 49-1 during their streak.

Patuxent is making its fifth straight state tournament appearance, with a state title in 2017.

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