This spring, however, the road to the state tournament will go through Sandy Spring as the Warriors (10-1 record as of Sunday) earned the region's No. 1 seed. The Bulldogs (9-2) are the No. 2 seed.
The postseason brackets were not available as of press time. Go to www.mpssaa.org for complete regional brackets.
“We've been pretty tired the past couple weeks so getting the top seed has been a big motivating factor for us,” first-year coach Kelly Hughes, whose team's only loss is to Southern, an Anne Arundel County School. “We have been operating under the impression and expecting the whole year that we would be getting a bye in the first round. … The idea of facing Churchill again is also motivating. They are what we are striving for.”
Sherwood is defensive-minded and did not surrender more than nine goals to any county opponent this spring, but the Warriors also can score with Maddie Doan and Emily Kenul pacing the midfield attack.
Churchill, meanwhile, is a high-octane offense that is led by senior Mairin Hall and Maddy Flax.
“This is the first time we haven't played Sherwood in the regular season, but we are familiar with each other,” Bulldogs coach Christen Gjeldum said. “I only foresee us beating ourselves, but we must play as a team and not get too far ahead of ourselves.”
James H. Blake (9-2) earned the third seed and could challenge the top teams. Their only two losses came to Churchill (18-16 on March 23) and Sherwood (12-9 on April 26). The Bengals also have arguably the best player on the field in junior midfielder Caroline Wannen, who is verbally committed to the University of Maryland.
Montgomery Blair (8-3) earned a rare top-four seed, but did not beat a team with a winning record.
The four seeded teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack in the region, which is comprised entirely of Montgomery County teams.
Thomas S. Wootton (7-4) finished with the fifth best record and was subject to the random draw. The Patriots have the talent to pull an upset with junior center Marisa Cresham directing the offense, but they have been marred by inconsistency all season.
“We had an excellent run in the middle of the season where we worked well together and won six in a row,” coach Kasey Marchwicki said. “But now, we are slowing down and kind of in a slump.”
Other teams in the random draw, include Walter Johnson (7-4), Albert Einstein (6-5), Walt Whitman (5-6), Springbrook (5-6), Bethesda Chevy Chase (5-6), Paint Branch (5-6) and John F. Kennedy (0-11).
4A/3A North Region
After starting the season 0-3, Quince Orchard has won eight games in a row, including its signature victory of the season on Friday, 12-9, against Churchill.
First-year coach Jennifer Holliday's team is balanced and will be the No. 1 or 2 seed in the region.
“I think the three losses to start the year [against Urbana, Poolesville and Wootton] were really good for the girls,” she said. “I don't think we would be as good as we are now because they realized what they needed to do.”
Reigning Class 4A/3A state runner-up and perennial Carroll County power Westminster also recorded an 8-3 record in games that count toward regional seeding. The top-seed in the bracket was determined by coin flip, which had not been conducted as of press time.
Watkins Mill (7-4) is the third seed, but did not beat a team with a winning record. It lost 17-7 to Quince Orchard, 15-3 to Walter Johnson and 23-9 to Blake last month.
Howard County's Howard (7-5) earned the fourth and final seeded slot.
Northwest (6-5), led by senior attacker Tara Nicholas, Richard Montgomery (4-7), Gaithersburg (2-9), Clarksburg (2-9) and Col. Zadok Magruder (0-11) were subject to the random draw. Frederick County's Urbana (6-5), which lost by just a goal, 20-19, to Westminster, and Linganore (4-8) also were subject to the draw.
3A/2A West Region
Damascus enters the postseason as the top-seed at 11-0, but is not the favorite.
That honor goes to second-seeded Carroll County power and last year's 3A/2A state runner-up Century (13-1), which suffered its only loss this season against national private school power McDonogh of Baltimore.
The Swarmin' Hornets, however, have breezed through their schedule this spring, outscoring opponents 188-36. They have not scored less than 15 goals in any contest or allowed more than seven, and have recorded two shutouts.
But coach Jodi Hathaway said the level of competition her team will be seeing in the postseason is significantly more difficult than during the regular season.
The top line of juniors Holly Lawrence, Cassidy Schollenberger and Colby Muller will be key along with senior goalie Stephanie West if the Hornets want to make a run to the region's championship game.
“If we play well, we should have a pretty good chance against any of the teams, but as everyone knows, it is not easy against the out-of-county teams,” Hathaway said. “The girls are aware at how good teams like Century are so the biggest thing for us will be getting over the mental aspects the further we go.”
North Hagerstown (10-2) is the third seed and Frederick County's Tuscarora (9-3), which is a seeded team for the first time in school history, is No. 4.
Northwood (1-10), Rockville (3-8) and Seneca Valley (5-6) all fell to the random draw along with Frederick County representatives Middletown (8-3), which could legitimately challenge for a berth in the region final, Frederick (5-7) and Gov. Thomas Johnson (0-10) and Washington County's South Hagerstown (0-10).
2A/1A West Region
Poolesville (8-3) and Wheaton (3-9) will represent the county in a region dominated by Carroll, Frederick and Washington County teams.
Private schoolsOur Lady of Good Counsel is vying for a ninth consecutive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title as the No. 1 seed, while Academy of the Holy Cross is No. 2. The tournament began Tuesday and the championship game is scheduled for Monday at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Bullis, Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, Holton-Arms, Holy Child and St. Andrew's Episcopal are scheduled to begin the Independent School League tournament on Saturday.