Tigers set sights on Cougars, Elks aim for re­match with In­di­ans

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

jschatz@cecwhig.com

A pair of Ce­cil County teams will kick off the girls’ soc­cer play­offs on Fri­day when they both take on Har­ford County op­po­nents in the 2A East Re­gion Sec­tion I quar­ter­fi­nals.

Ris­ing Sun (6-5-1) will host North Har­ford (5-52), while Elk­ton (4-6-1) will visit Har­ford Tech (7-5).

For the Tigers, the game rep­re­sents a late-sea­son re­match from last week when they tied the Hawks 1-1 in over­time in their fi­nal Ch­e­sa­peake Di­vi­sion con­test.

“I think it does [ben­e­fit us to play them again],” Ris­ing Sun coach Dy­lan Ai­man said. “It was nice to see the kind of qual­ity they have and where their strengths and weak­nesses are. We didn’t do any­thing spe­cial while [play­ing them]. We knew we would play them in a week so we didn’t show them any set plays. I kind of used that game sort of as an ad­van­tage to get a feel for them and not show them our cards.”

A win would pit the Tigers against top-seeded Fall­ston (9-2), which has knocked the Ce­cil squad out of the play­offs each of the past two sea­sons and three times in the last four years.

“I think Fall­ston is much more beat­able this year than they’ve ever been,” Ai­man said. “I know they beat us 2-0 at home, but I wasn’t im­pressed and that was with us miss­ing sev­eral key play­ers. I hope we get the chance to play it but we are by no means look­ing beyond North Har­ford.”

The Golden Elks, who won their fi­nal two Susque­hanna Di­vi­sion games be­fore end­ing the year with a non-di­vi­sional loss to Ris­ing Sun, open up against the Co­bras, who they did not face dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son.

“One of the things that I think the Elk­ton pro­gram is go­ing through, and if you look at the his­tory, at least the last four years, is it has con­tin­u­ally pro­gressed. One of the is­sues this year that hap­pened was the late turnover in coach­ing. I wasn’t there from Day One. But even con­sid­er­ing that, we didn’t ex­actly take a step back. We may have even taken a step for­ward,” firstyear Elk­ton coach Dave Low­ell said. “That put us in re­ally good con­tention with a lot of these teams that we played close games with. It wasn’t just North East, it was also Bo Manor that was a one-goal game. I think we are right there with a lot of these teams.

“I haven’t seen Har­ford Tech, but it seems like it could be a pretty tight game. Skill wise, I think it’s there, it just de­pends on who puts it to­gether bet­ter on Fri­day.”

The win­ner be­tween the Elks and Co­bras will ad­vance to face se­cond-seeded North East (8-4), which se­cured an open­ing-round bye and home field af­ter fin­ish­ing un­de­feated in the Susque­hanna Di­vi­sion. The In­di­ans topped Elk­ton 2-1 on Oct. 13, and fell to Har­ford Tech 2-1 in over­time on Oct. 4.

“[The reg­u­lar sea­son] was an ex­am­ple of the kids work­ing to­gether with team­work to achieve suc­cess,” In­di­ans coach Matt Roberts said. “I don’t think we have su­per­stars, but we have a lot of kids who like each other, en­joy play­ing with each other and en­joy be­ing around each other.”

Last year’s North East team, de­spite win­ning the Susque­hanna, en­tered the post­sea­son as the fifth seed and be­gan the play­offs on the road, where they suf­fered an open­ing-round loss to a higher seed. This time around, the In­di­ans plan to take ad­van­tage of a much bet­ter start­ing po­si­tion.

“We wel­come the op­por­tu­nity for a re­match [with ei­ther Har­ford Tech or Elk­ton], but we talked about it as a team this week what we have to do to be pre­pared to play ei­ther one of those teams,” Roberts said. “I think it’s very im­por­tant [that we’re home] against ei­ther team for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. I think it’s to our ad­van­tage to play Har­ford Tech on our field on grass rather than their field on turf. It’s a ben­e­fit to play a po­ten­tial game against Elk­ton on our field that we’re used to play­ing com­pared to at Elk­ton where they’ve played sev­eral games this year.”

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