S. Park, Chesapeake play on


Don Gregg doesn't know if extending the regular season is a good idea, but he might have a decision after today's game against No. 9 Chesapeake, which will determine the boys soccer county champion.

"It could be positive," said Gregg, the coach at No. 4 Severna Park, "or maybe it won't be because someone might get hurt. It's hard to say. I have mixed emotions about it. But it'll be competitive, no doubt about it."

For proof of that, Gregg needs only to think back to the first meeting between the two teams, when Severna Park escaped with a 1-0 win Oct. 6.

"I just hope the kids don't treat this as the climax of the season," said Chesapeake coach Earl Eckhardt. "They're really thrilled to be in it."

The doubleheader at North County, which begins at 5 p.m., includes the girls title game between No. 6 Severna Park and No. 7 South River. Their last confrontation, on Sept. 28, ended in a scoreless tie.

It is the first time the top two soccer teams have been pitted against each other to determine a county champion.

Gregg said he can't worry about injuries because "that's when people get hurt." And Eckhardt agrees.

"Someone asked me if I'll take it easy so we don't have anyone hurt, and I said, 'Are you nuts?' Our team has talked about playing for the county championship all year long. We're looking at this as a special game," he said.

"It's given us a focus for the season."

The Falcons (11-1) also have given Eckhardt something to worry about other than injuries -- finding a way to score against them. They own nine shutouts, including eight in a row, and have won nine straight games since their only loss, 3-2, against Calvert Hall Sept. 24.

Chesapeake (10-2) has won four straight. Its other loss this year came against Roosevelt, 2-1.

"These are the two best teams," Eckhardt said of today's matchup.

Few would argue with that assessment of the girls game.

Nationally ranked Bishop O'Connell is the only team to defeat Severna Park, 2-0, Oct. 12. The Falcons (10-1-1) have posted three straight shutouts and 10 overall, and have given up just three goals.

South River (10-0-2) has won six in a row since a 2-2 tie with Arundel Sept. 30. The Seahawks have scored 44 goals, including 20 by junior striker Jess Marion, who also has four assists.

"She's as good as any kid I've seen," said Severna Park coach Joyce Stefancik.

Stefancik expects another physical game, like the first one, "but I won't coach any differently," she said. "I just hope to have officials who will call the fouls, rather than just let them play. But it should be a good game."

Seahawks coach Will Pharr said his girls wanted to see Severna Park again, "even if the result earlier in the year had been different."

"This game gives them a little something to look forward to in the county before the playoffs," he said. "The last five or six games, it was really hard to get them motivated. I think our play had come down. The intensity's not there. But no matter what happens [today], I know we'll have to get ready to play and that will lead us into the playoffs.

"I know we're going to play hard, and I'm sure Joyce has got them ready to play hard, too. I'll just say a prayer and hope that nothing bad happens that will keep any of the girls out for later on in the year. But it will be physical."

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