Oakland Mills coach Don Shea hasn't panicked yet. But he's sweating .
He knows the Scorpions will have a good shot at winning a state Class 2A title if they can qualify for the regional playoffs.
The problem is that Oakland Mills (4-1) plays in a Class 2A region Notebook
where a few Baltimore County schools dominate much weaker Baltimore County competition, while he plays in the toughest team-for-team soccer league in the state.
Those top Baltimore County schools include Towson (5-1), Loch Raven (4-1), Overlea (4-1-1) and Hereford (4-1-1). Only the top four teams qualify for regions.
A 2-1 loss to Loyola Oct. 3, in which the Scorpions outshot the Dons 31-6 and had 20 corner kicks to none, upset Shea's preseason plans. He thought Oakland Mills would go undefeated in non-league games and then be able to lose two or three county games and still make the playoffs.
Now two league losses look like the maximum the team can afford.
Last Friday's rain-out against Wilde Lake, a game rescheduled for today, complicated everything and added to the pressure.
The Scorpions face a tough week in which they must play Wilde Lake, Atholton and Howard.
"We'll know by the end of the week if we're in or out [of the playoffs]," Shea said.
Wilde Lake has proven an especially tough opponent, because its a cross-town Columbia rivalry between the oldest Columbia schools.
Wilde Lake trounced Oakland Mills, 5-0, last season. But since Shea became Oakland Mills' coach in 1986, Oakland Mills has won four and lost three against the Wildecats.
Lifetime, the series stands at 11-11-1.
Oakland Mills is not the same team Shea thought it would be in preseason. He had 10 senior lettermen back and expected a senior-dominated squad.
"But we've changed our personality," Shea said. "Some underclassmen have bumped seniors out of starting positions."
Of six senior starters remaining, five play defense, including goalkeeper Jason Kranfeld, Jay Holmes, Rob Ricketts, Kevin Brown and Andre Jones.
Senior striker Henry Roh (two goals) is joined by junior Ted Lawler (two goals). Junior midfielder Rob Severn (three goals) leads the team in scoring.
When special skills are required, it's usually underclassmen who fill them, such as junior Brent Mascott and sophomore Keith Murphy kicking corners, or Mascott and Lawler designated to take penalty kicks.
Oakland Mills does use seniors Ricketts and Nathan Matherly on long throws-ins.
"I think everything boils down to the quirk of the schedule now," Shea said. "If you play three games in one week, how much ammunition will you have left by the end? How many big games does a team have in it?"
* Hammond (2-2) didn't care for Friday's rainout, either. It left the Bears facing two straight three-game weeks.
And it took away a scheduling advantage. Glenelg was facing back-to-back games. It played Liberty last Thursday night and was to play Hammond on Friday.
The Bears, an overtime loser to Fallston and North Harford, are in the same region as Oakland Mills. Hammond can afford only one more loss and still have realistic playoff hopes.
Coach Rich Corkran is not making any excuses for the two overtime losses. "We had our chances and should have blown both those teams away in the first 10 minutes," Corkran said.
North Harford scored twice on penalty kicks against Hammond, which faces Centennial, South Carroll and Mt. Hebron this week.
Kris Jefferson (three goals) leads the Bears in scoring.
* Glenelg's 2-1 win over Liberty proved the toughest of the season for the undefeated Gladiators.
"It was very intense. Liberty was pumped up," Glenelg coach John Bouman said. "Their defense didn't give us an inch of space. We had to create everything."
Bouman was pleased his team finally faced intense defensive pressure -- the same kind that several league opponents will create.
He also was pleased that Friday's game against Hammond was rained out.
Glenelg, which never has made the regional playoffs, is 5-0. It is in the same Class 2A region with Liberty, so Thursday's win meant a lot.