New sectional format mixes up soccer playoffs -- Gazette.Net


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The public school boys’ and girls’ soccer playoffs are scheduled to begin Friday throughout Prince George’s County and many teams, especially those in the 4A classification, could see some unfamiliar first-round foes.

Because of a new system that groups teams geographically in a top and bottom half section of each region’s bracket, many intriguing early-round matchups are on tap. Here’s a look at the playoff soccer picture in the county.

Boys

In Friday’s opening round, eight 4A South Region schools will face elimination. Bladensburg is scheduled to take on Northwestern and Parkdale visits DuVal in the Northern section of the bracket while Oxon Hill is scheduled to play Henry A. Wise and Eleanor Roosevelt plays host to Suitland in the South.

The four teams that have earned byes (High Point, Laurel, Charles H. Flowers and Bowie) will await the winners of those games to find out who they’ll play on Tuesday.

For High Point (10-1-2), a team that could be considered the favorite having not lost to a county opponent all season, success in the early rounds never has been a problem. This year’s Eagles, despite having lost all-everything midfielder Edwin Claros to graduation, are well-disciplined but their two ties came against clubs that also earned byes (Bowie and Flowers). That means it’s anyone’s guess as to which team emerges from the region.

Upstart Flowers has played every team tough this season, Laurel boasts dangerous striker Kelly Mareh, Bowie’s inexperience has disappeared as the year’s progressed and Northwestern and Bladensburg are both very technical.

In the 3A bracket, Crossland’s undefeated season came to an end against High Point in the county title match but the Cavaliers have plenty to play for in the state tournament, including attempting to win their region for the second time in school history.

“The team is motivated and we’re definitely going for it,” Crossland midfielder Ricardo Garcia said.

In the 2A classification, Gwynn Park and Largo earned byes to the second round while in the 1A ranks, Central, Fairmont Heights and Surrattsville all locked up byes despite only Central having a winning record. In fact, Central, Crossland and Gwynn Park were the only three clubs to post winning marks during the regular season in the county’s 3A/2A/1A League while eight schools did so in the 4A ranks.

Girls

In Friday’s opening round, eight 4A South schools will face elimination as Laurel takes on Bladensburg and DuVal visits High Point in the Northern half of the bracket while Oxon Hill is scheduled to play Suitland and Flowers plays host to Wise in the South.

The four teams that have earned byes (Parkdale, Northwestern, Roosevelt and Bowie) will await the winners of those games to find out who they’ll play on Tuesday.

Roosevelt, which beat Gwynn Park 6-1 in Tuesday’s county title match, enters the postseason undefeated against local foes but 0-2 playing outside of Prince George’s County. As it has been for quite some time, the Raiders or Bulldogs are the prohibitive favorites to take home a region title. Bowie’s only loss in-county came to Roosevelt. This year, however, the rivals could end up playing each other one round earlier thanks to the new zoning rules.

“You’re going to have to beat everybody anyway,” Raiders coach Bob Sowers said. “So we’ll see what happens.”

Wise, Parkdale, Northwestern and Flowers also finished with winning records in the 4A.

In the 3A bracket, Crossland has a tough first-round task in LaPlata, while in the 2A, Gwynn Park and Frederick Douglass both finished the regular season 10-1-0 and earned byes. Surrattsville likely is the county’s best team in the 1A ranks (8-3-0), while both Forestville and Central automatically advanced to the second round.

ncammarota@gazette.net