Centennial girls soccer coach Dave Greenberg probably won't be playing the lottery any time soon.
Sunday, those pingpong ball lottery machines bounced the Eagles into one of the worst draws of the open regional soccer tournament. At 11-0, the Eagles own the best record in the Class 3A/4A West region, but they drew South Carroll (10-1), the team with the next best record, in the first round.
"I had this reservation from the beginning," said Greenberg. "Unfortunately, this is the classic case of what can happen with this system."
The Eagles are seeded 10th in a 10-team field where six teams have first-round byes to fill out the bracket of 16. That means Centennial plays all of its games on the road, including one of only two first-round games in the region.
"There ought to be some kind of reward for what you do during the season," said Greenberg. "I don't mind if everybody makes it, but you ought to get the home-field advantage or something based on what you do in the season."
Still, Greenberg said the Eagles probably would have to play South Carroll eventually, so they should be able to overcome the difficult draw. "We're just gonna have to accept it as an additional challenge."
Other Howard County teams made out fairly well in the draw, especially Howard and Hammond, which drew top-seeded spots. Both will keep the home-field advantage as long as they remain alive in the regional tournament.
The Lions (5-4-2) drew the top spot and a first-round bye in the Class 3A/4A West. Mount Hebron (2-8) is seeded ninth in the same region and will play its opening-round game at eighth-seeded Westminster. The winner meets Howard in the second round.
In Class 1A/2A South, Hammond is seeded first followed by Wilde Lake (7-3-1), second. Both have first-round byes, as does fifth-seed Atholton (6-4-1).
Glenelg (7-3-1) drew the ninth spot and will travel to Northeast (Anne Arundel) for the first round. The winner heads to Hammond.
Oakland Mills (5-4-1) matched Centennial's draw, coming up 10th in another 10-team field. The Scorpions will meet Southern (Anne Arundel) in the first round. If they win, they meet Wilde Lake in Round 2.
All wrapped up
There is some good news for Centennial's girls soccer team -- the Eagles have wrapped up the Howard County championship.
The Eagles clinched the title outright Thursday with a 1-0 overtime win at Oakland Mills. Michelle Clare scored the game-winner on an assist from Melissa Schreibstein.
A bit of unwilling assistance came from Wilde Lake, which saw its hopes to repeat as county champs dashed in a scoreless double-overtime tie with Howard. As a result, the second-place Wildecats dropped to 4-1-1 in the league and the Eagles improved to 6-0.
The Eagles' defending champion field hockey and volleyball teams remain in good position to sweep the girls county titles for Centennial.
The field hockey team improved to 5-0 in the county and 10-0 overall with Thursday's 1-0 win at Atholton. Emily Ward continued her phenomenal offensive display, scoring the second-half game-winner on an assist from Liz Sturm. Ward has scored or assisted on 10 of the past 11 Eagles goals.
With two games left, Howard, at 3-1-1, has a slim chance to edge out the Eagles, but only if Centennial drops both games this week while the Lions win two. For Centennial, a win over Wilde Lake this afternoon would clinch the title.
The volleyball championship could come down to the Eagles' finale on Nov. 1, when the Eagles travel to second-place Mount Hebron (9-1).
The Vikings have a tough road with three other strong foes left. They play at Atholton tomorrow, at Glenelg Friday and at home against Oakland Mills in a match moved from today to Nov. 3.
On the other hand, Centennial's remaining opponents are Howard and Hammond, with a combined two league wins.