FREDERICK -- South Carroll coach Jim Horn stopped his players from dumping a bucket of water on him after last night's game at Thomas Johnson, cautioning them that "this was just a first step."
But it was a step in the right direction. No. 12 South Carroll dominated play for most of the game, and the Cavaliers got goals from Stephanie Wilson, Brooke Maynard and Shannan Henley for a 3-0 victory over Thomas Johnson in a Class 3A-4A West Region playoff.
South Carroll (13-0) -- which beat the Patriots by the same score during the season -- advances to play host to Atholton on Tuesday or Wednesday in its next region playoff game.
The Cavaliers pressured Thomas Johnson (6-3-4) from the start, keeping the ball in the Patriots' end of the field for much of the night. South Carroll outshot the Patriots, 11-6, and controlled play most of the game.
Still, the Patriots stayed close. Wilson gave the Cavaliers a 1-0 lead with her goal 13:56 into the game, but they couldn't add to that for a while -- something that concerned Horn.
"That's what was worrying me," said Horn. "Here we are dominating, and if they poke one in, I think that would have been a real lift for them and a deflater for us."
Adding to Horn's worries was the fact that Thomas Johnson took it to the Cavaliers early in the second half. After being outshot, 6-1, in the opening 40 minutes, the Patriots moved a third player up to striker to pressure the Cavs.
And the Patriots manufactured some chances. Stephanie Holt -- marked closely by South Carroll's Erin O'Neill much of the game -- broke free and fired a bullet that Amanda Hughes saved five minutes into the half.
"TJ really came out hard in the second half," said Horn.
South Carroll adjusted to the change and slowly began to take command again. Racing straight up the center of the field, Michele Mitchell got a good shot but fired it over the crossbar with about 18 minutes left.
But the Cavaliers kept the pressure coming. Allison Cavey then took it down the left wing and made a perfect cross to Maynard, who pushed it past Thomas Johnson goalie Laura Cool with 14:49 left in the game.
Henley sealed the victory when she scored with 11:35 left. She sent a high ball toward the goal that appeared as if it would sail over the cage and through the goal post behind it.
Cool misjudged the ball, however, moving forward and then back before it dropped through her hands for a 3-0 South Carroll lead.
"I thought she was going to get it," said Henley. "I just kicked it. I was surprised it went in."