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Washington Post article- Whitman Advances Its Game in Playoffs and Another Chance for Barons

Posted Thursday, October 30, 2008 by Jeff Nelson
By Jeff Nelson
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, October 30, 2008; Page E03

Another Chance for Barons

On Sept. 24, Bethesda-Chevy Chase suffered its only loss to a Montgomery County public school when it traveled to Damascus and left with a 2-1 defeat.

Winners of eight straight since that night, the Barons (12-4) get another shot at the Swarmin' Hornets (11-3) when they meet today at Bethesda-Chevy Chase for the 3A West region title.

"Our head wasn't in the right place [against Damascus] and we beat ourselves," Bethesda-Chevy Chase senior Catherine Mirsky said. "We just weren't focused. We just came into the game not serious enough."

The Barons, last season's Maryland 3A runners-up, returned only three starters, leaving them with a lack of experience that contributed to a 1-3 start. But they have won 11 of their last 12 and become a title contender again, in large part because of Mirsky.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Coach Amy Wood said her center-midfielder has made everyone around her better.

She just directs the field," Wood said. "Her vision is so good. She passes the ball to everyone, and that means she trusts everyone.

"She can have zero goals and zero assists and she still does so much for the team with her leadership and instilling confidence in her teammates."

When looking at Whitman's regular season, it's hard to find a stretch in which the Vikings looked capable of winning a region title. They never won more than three games in a row and dropped their last two to enter the playoffs with a 7-5 record.

But along the way, there were enough close games to show the Vikings that they could play with anyone. A midseason 2-1 victory over Quince Orchard only bolstered that belief.

"It proved how even the teams are in Montgomery County this year," said senior Maya Herm, who leads the Vikings with 15 goals and six assists. "If you have a team that works together, you can beat the odds. Everyone thought we were going to lose that game."

Whitman wasn't expected to win in either of its first two games in the 4A South region, but the fifth-seeded Vikings beat fourth-seeded Wootton last Thursday, 1-0 in strokes, and upended top-seeded Blake on Tuesday, 1-0.

The Vikings lost to both of those teams in the regular season, and Blake entered the playoffs undefeated.


Now Herm and senior goalie Hillary Wall get a chance to lead Whitman, which last won the region in 2006, into today's final at second-seeded Springbrook.

"As a team in the postseason, we've just been working hard, and we finally put it all together going into these last two games," said Herm, who scored the lone goal Tuesday. "We're just finding each other on the field. We had one really good passing sequence against Blake that set us up to score and win that game. And we're keeping a positive attitude, just thinking we can do this."

Atoms Take Off
One week after Annandale handed Lake Braddock its first loss of the season, the Atoms pulled off another upset by beating Fairfax in the first round of the Northern Region tournament Tuesday.

Annandale (9-11) got goals from senior Marisa Tordella and junior Maggie Bermingham to earn a 2-1 victory over the Rebels (14-4), giving the Atoms their sixth win in the last seven games.

The Atoms' surge started with a 2-1 overtime victory over West Springfield on Oct. 15. Entering that game, Annandale had a 3-10 record.

"All season long, we've been trying to find the combination that would help these girls play the best together on the field," Atoms Coach Cindy Hook said. "And that's what happened before senior night" against West Springfield.

In addition to Tordella and Bermingham, senior Tanya Bellingham has been leading the offense; sophomore Kristen Hennessey and seniors Laura Simpson and Amy Steinbuechler have stood out on defense; and sophomore goalie Emily Fruchterman has shown consistent improvement in her first year starting on varsity.

Annandale's next test is today against Jefferson at Oakton High.

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