Playing flat after a three-day layoff from practice, Anne Arundel Community College's women's soccer team lost to Catonsville, 1-0, Tuesday in a game that determined which squad would be home for their semifinal clash in the Region XX Tournament Nov. 3.
Coach Tito Baca had given his Pioneers the time off to heal and rest after a tough, 3-3 tie with Essex last Thursday. Before then, Essex hadn't lost or been tied by a region opponent in three years, Baca said.
The offense didn't have the same punch against Catonsville, which notched its goal about 25 minutes into the second half on a penalty kick after an Anne Arundel player was given a red card for pushing in the box.
"If you can score three goals against Essex, you should be able to score against anybody," Baca said.
Instead, it took the outstanding play of goalkeeper Holly Hladycz (16 saves) to keep the Pioneers (3-6-3) in contention.
Coach Jim Fontaine says his men's team is "stronger than it's been all year." That's because it's healthier than it's been at any time this season.
Jere Hartman returned last weekend for the Maryland State Cross Country Championships at Western Maryland College after missing four meets with a knee injury, and he finished in 32 minutes, 30 seconds.
Craig McKenzie, an All-American midfielder on the lacrosse team, also became available and posted a time of 32:15.
"He gives us strength in the middle of the pack, where meets are often won or lost," Fontaine said.
Bobby Downs again led the Pioneer men, coming in 10th at 28:08. Shawn Stallings (31:25) and Pete Dugan (31:28) followed.
On the women's side, Lynn Kurchock placed 10th at 21:30, and Kerry Lindenmeyer was 22nd at 22:30.
After a week off, the Pioneers take part in the Region XX championships in Hagerstown.
"We have a good chance to win the men's and women's championships. We're optimistic," Fontaine said.
"We've beaten all the teams in our region. Now we have to do it one more time, when it counts. This is our Super Bowl."
Anne Arundel scored twice in the second half to defeat Harford, 2-1, Friday.
Pat Crawford netted the first goal two minutes into the half, off a pass from Nick Badalian. Dave Engstrom then scored with two minutes remaining.
Yesterday, the Pioneers (8-6-2) lost at Essex Community College, 3-1, in overtime. Michael Lance (Calvert Hall) scored the winning goal in the second overtime for Essex (8-3). Fred Sporrer, with an assist from Crawford, scored Anne Arundel's goal.
Anne Arundel got off to a slow start at Essex Monday, losing the first game, 9-15. But the Pioneers took the next three, 15-9, 15-6, 15-3.
Elena Baloglou had nine kills and four blocks. She was moved from the weak side to the middle, "and she did an excellent job on block coverage," said co-coach Betty Hession.
Cassandra Melton added 10 kills, Amy Rottman had seven kills and five aces, Lori Sharpless had seven kills and four blocks, and Jen Welsh contributed four kills and four blocks.