Westminster needs a win to stay alive for postseason berth


The Westminster football team's loss to Urbana last week dropped the Owls down, but maybe not out.

The Owls, who last week ranked seventh in Class 3A in playoff points, now are 10th. With only the four region winners and the next four highest-ranked teams qualifying for the playoffs, they now find themselves in a precarious spot entering tomorrow's regular-season finale against South Carroll.

In essence, the Owls (7-2, 7.86 points) would need to beat South Carroll, while teams immediately ahead of them - like Gaithersburg (8.21) and Largo (8.11) - to lose.

And due to the complicated nature of the state's point system, the picture could be muddled further by the outcome of games played by teams previously beaten by the playoff contenders. If those teams win, the teams fighting for a playoff spot benefit.

Fuzzy math aside, Westminster coach Scott Tobias said there's really only one number that matters at this point. One more win.

"We're going to need some help from some other teams and there's an outside chance, but we need to focus on what we have at hand Friday night before we jump any other guns," Tobias said.

In South Carroll (5-4), Westminster will face a team that's won three of its past four games, and is averaging more than 31 points a game in its victories.

It's a tough challenge, no doubt, but one that Tobias said his players will be up for.

"We're taking one week at a time," he said. "Then if something special comes after that, fantastic."

Westminster shoots for title

On Monday, Westminster's field hockey team cleared a major hurdle when it finally defeated Walt Whitman in the Class 4A state semifinals after losing to the Vikings in shootouts in each of the past two years.

Now, the Owls (11-3-1) face the challenge of putting aside their emotions as they prepare to face Quince Orchard tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. at Goucher College.

"I don't think it's going to be hard because we're where we wanted to be," Owls goalie Emily Chamelin said. "I've achieved that goal, and now I've set a new one. I want to win states."

In Quince Orchard (12-2), which edged Chesapeake in a 26-shot, penalty-stroke marathon Monday, the Owls will face a team that has won six straight, and averaged nearly three goals a game during the regular season. The Cougars also feature a stingy defense that has recorded eight shutouts.

Earlier this season, however, Quince Orchard showed vulnerabilities in a 2-0 loss to Whitman, the same team the Owls just defeated.

Westminster will be shooting for its first state title since 1996, a year before current coach Judie Puckett joined the staff as an assistant.

Tough schedule helps

Scheduling teams like McDonogh, Centennial and Glenelg may not have done wonders for North Carroll's record in girls soccer this season. Once the Panthers hit postseason, however, it was the experience of playing those teams - each of which held a top-10 spot in The Sun's poll this season - that may have been the biggest factor in their ability to advance through the bracket.

After winning just six of 14 games, North Carroll beat Richard Montgomery and South Carroll to earn a spot in Tuesday's Class 3A West final.

There, the Panthers (8-7-2) trailed by a goal until the final minutes before losing to Urbana, 3-0, in a game far more competitive than a 4-1 loss to the Hawks a month before.

"We always try to schedule challenging teams during the regular season to prepare us for the state playoffs," coach Jim MacDonald said. "I think it absolutely helped."

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