Sunday is an important day for county field hockey and soccer teams. And yet, none of them will play.
The regional draw for the playoffs that begin in both sports next week will be Sunday at Centennial High.
The field hockey draw begins at 1 p.m. Boys soccer begins at 3 p.m. and the girls draw will immediately follow.
If you like seeing lottery balls come out of a machine, the proceedings are open to the public. There even will be refreshments.
"We want people to come and be apart of it and have some fun," said Ned Sparks, executive secretary of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.
Last year's experimental open playoff format for volleyball and soccer is no longer an experiment, and field hockey, basketball, lacrosse, softball and baseball will have open tournaments as well.
A criticism of last year's format had to do with Centennial's girls soccer team, which finished the season undefeated. The Eagles drew the bottom seed -- teams are positioned by random draw and not their record -- and never had a playoff game at home.
Changes to the system won't allow that to happen again.
In this year's format, the first playoff game still will be played at the school with the lower-numbered line position. But in the ensuing rounds, the team that has played the fewest home tournament games will get to play at home. If two teams face each other that have played the same number of home games, the team with the lowest-line position will play at home.
For those who prefer volleyball, its draw will take place at 1 p.m. Oct. 29 at Centennial.
While every team still has a shot to win a state title, such is not the case for county championships.
Here's a brief look at the county races in field hockey, girls soccer and volleyball.
In field hockey, if Howard (4-1 league) can win its last two games against Mount Hebron (4-1) today and Centennial (5-1) Monday, the Lions will capture the title. Otherwise, there's a good chance for a tie. Mount Hebron finishes its regular season Tuesday at Glenelg. Atholton (4-1-1) still has a chance, but needs the most help from other teams.
"We talked today about how important these next two games were," Howard coach Pat Becker said yesterday. "We talked about how so many teams in the county don't respect Howard. We're going to play these next two games for respect."
On the other side, Oakland Mills' 1-0 victory over Wilde Lake Wednesday meant the Wildecats finished their county season 0-6-1. Kelly Lockwood's goal with 16 seconds remaining gave the Scorpions the win. Wilde Lake scored only three goals against county opponents, but did come up with a scoreless tie against Atholton.
In girls soccer, Centennial (5-0-1) can earn its second straight title with a win Tuesday at Glenelg (1-3-2). If the Eagles lose Tuesday and Howard (4-1) can beat Wilde Lake (3-1-1) tonight and Atholton (3-1-2) on Tuesday, the Lions would be champions. Wilde Lake plays at Mount Hebron (2-4) Tuesday.
On the other end, Hammond, which two years ago lost in the 1A-2A state championship game, could go winless in the league. The Golden Bears (0-6), who have scored one goal against county teams, play host to Oakland Mills (2-4) Tuesday.
"No sport is fun if you lose all the time," said Hammond coach Dave Guetler, whose team won its opener and has lost ever since. "But the girls are really spirited and try very hard. We're playing better."
Two important players for Hammond, junior Emily Bielefeld and sophomore Jessica Shamoo, are back from injuries.
Oakland Mills has had tough luck this season, losing 1-0 to Wilde Lake, Atholton and Centennial and 2-1 to Howard.
In volleyball, Centennial is on its way to a fifth straight county title. The four-time state 3A champions are 10-0 and lead Mount Hebron (8-2) and Glenelg (7-3). On the other side, Wilde Lake is 0-10 in the league. The regular season ends Nov. 1.