Coaches and players worry about things like coming down from a huge win or losing the edge because of a lengthy layoff. Either concern can result in every coach's nightmare -- playing flat.
Two teams vulnerable for a letdown met in the 4A East Region boys soccer quarterfinals in Ferndale last night.
Playing under a steady mist at North County, the host Knights were coming off their biggest win of the season against a Panthers team that had not played in over a week. Just Monday, North County had stunned county champion and No. 2 (13-1) rTC Chesapeake, 6-3, in the first round of the 4A East regional.
Annapolis drew a first round bye, sat back and waited for its quarterfinal foe. Despite the rest, the Panthers (7-5-1) were sharp and in sync, posting a 3-0 victory over the lethargic Knights (6-6-2).
The Panthers advance to Saturday's 7 p.m. semifinal at Chesapeake vs. Meade. Annapolis made it to the region final last year for the first time under the open tournament format and finished 7-7-1.
"I was concerned about the week and a half off since our regular season ended, " said senior Panthers back Chris Holt, who scored the first and last goals for the victors with sophomore striker Oscar Alfaro scoring the other.
"You worry about not playing in rhythm after not playing for a while. That's what happened the first time we played 'em. We were out of rhythm."
North County took the regular- season meeting, also played in a light rain, by 2-0, but the Knights appeared flat and never got into a flow last night.
"Our defense with Brock [Nelson] was awesome, " said Holt, who has played most of the season with a hernia that will be taken care of at the conclusion of the playoffs. "They stymied them."
Nelson, a senior stopper, and two players who have made successful transitions to new positions in senior sweeper Kevin Stroop and junior outside fullback Todd Nicolini anchored a defense that held the Knights to only six legitimate shots on goal.
Chad Farley and Danny Zavorka had scored two goals each against Chesapeake, but were marked consistently by the Panthers last night.
Panthers senior keeper Andy Holt, Chris' twin brother, came into the game with a county- leading 186 saves, but was called on only three times.
"That No. 23 [Nelson] played a great game and they beat us to the ball most of the night, " said Knights coach Mike St. Martin.
Annapolis coach Dave Gehrdes, who does not scout teams and did not see the North County upset Monday, said his defense "has really picked up," and cited the play of Nelson, Stroop and Nicolini.
Gehrdes was delighted by the play of Chris Holt, especially his second goal midway through the second half that sealed the win.
* Annapolis 4, North County 1: Kate Bjorke scored two goals, Tina Grillo had a goal and assist, and Katie Vandergrift a goal as Annapolis (3-10) advanced to the 3A-4A East semifinals with a 4-1 victory over North County (1-13). The Panthers will host No. 3 Severna Park (13-1-1) Friday.
* Calvert 2, Arundel 1, 2 OT: Jared Sears scored the game-winning goal in the second overtime to lead host Calvert (11-2-1) over Arundel (6-7).
* Meade 3, Old Mill 0: Senior forward Brian Fowghty scored a goal in each half to lead host Meade (7-7) to a class 4A East quarterfinal win. Steve White added a goal and an assist for the Mustangs, who outshot the Patriots (4-9-0) 15-10.
Ian Gowing recorded 10 saves for Old Mill.