James McCallister led the Cougars in running and scored two TDs in the decisive 40-12 Cougar win against Clarksburg. The Cougars played hard all 60 minutes. Offense, defense and special teams all contributed: The kickoff team caused and recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff.
Harry Long scored from 10 on a flat pass on the third play from scrimmage. Less than two minutes later, Matt Sherman intercepted a Coyote pass, and Drew Murphy’s pass to Tyrell Williams from 2 yards out made it 13-0. A long drive led to a TD to open the second quarter. After the score reached 34-12, Alex Twine capped off the evening with a 34-yard return with an interception.
It was “balance night” at Einstein as the Cougars loosened the arm of Murphy and began to throw — 21 throws in all with 12 completions, two of them for touchdowns. Long did a little of everything in the game, scoring on a 37-yard pass after Corday Thomas dropped a sure TD pass wide open down the middle. Long broke free on the left and romped in to make it 28-7. He also converted on all five Cougar PATs and played some defense.
The QO running game wasn’t shabby: McCallister had 60 yards, and Mark Green 113, unofficially, including a 3-yard TD. McCallister opened the scoring from 7.
The final QO TD was a bit of a break. When the ball was tipped, Peter Bowles was in perfect position to gather it in and scamper in 20 yards to score. “It was a vertical route,” he said. “I just caught it and ran.”
Most of the passing for the Cougars took place in the second half when Murphy went 10-for-14. “We definitely knew we had to throw the ball this week,” said Murphy.
The Cougars dominated the Northwest Jaguars in every facet of the game. Junior Kelly Baick led an onslaught of players who would not allow the ball to stay in the Cougar end for any length of time, resulting in a shot difference for the Cougars of 24 to 1 with the Jaguars’ only shot coming with 10 minutes left in the second half.
Corners were even more outrageous: 24-to-1. Senior Leah Hunsinger and Emily Wingate got a goal each in each half for a final of 2-0.
The completion of a hat trick by Hunsinger and goals by Wingate, Sara Whiteis and senior Maddy King added to the first half goal by Catherine Seaman and propelled the Cougars to a one-sided 7-0 win over the Watkins Mill Wolverines.
A much tougher test loomed at Clarksburg. The Coyotes were 8-2 and clearly had the playoffs on their minds. Rachel Lipman and the entire defense sparkled all day, the offense delivered the big goals, and the Cougars shut out Clarksburg, 4-0. Alex Ritchie scored the first and last goals with Baick and Hunsinger scoring the middle two.
Coach Laura Williams exulted: “This was the day. Our defense [players] today were rock stars.”
Lipman played very aggressively, even making passes to her defenders out of potential saves. “They really wanted to beat us after a close game last year. We had to pick it up,” she said. They did.
Following the big win the Cougars were sluggish and lost to Churchill, 2-3. Williams said the girls allowed Churchill to set the tempo of the game but that QO “fixed it in the second half” when Hunsinger swept the ball into the corner of Churchill’s goal off an assist by King. QO continued to pick up the momentum and with 13 seconds left, Baick scored off a rebound.
The Cougars lost next against Wootton, 2-0. The two teams struggled to a scoreless first half, but toward the end of the game, Wootton picked up the intensity and scored twice.
“This is the best I’ve seen my girls play,” said Williams. “They kind of had a little bit of a mental breakdown on the last goal, but I’m still proud of them.”
It’s getting to be feast or famine for the Cougar leapers. They got wiped out by Sherwood, 3-0, after doing the same thing earlier in the week to Wheaton.
The Sherwood game disappointed Coach Stacy Bureau. “It’s disappointing to see how different a team can be from the start of the season to when we’re playing a real team. Once they get a couple of points in a row, we’re not talking.”
The Cougars lost all three sets to bursts of five or six points by Sherwood that, in each set, seemed to demoralize the Cougars and take them completely away from their game. Alex Holston led the Warriors with 12 kills. QO as a team had one. The game took the Cougars to a deceiving 6-2. Their two losses, to Poolesville and Sherwood, were both blowouts.
QO bounced back, led by sophomore Haley Fones and seniors Tia Mancuso and Leah Dagen, 3-0 against Seneca Valley. Mancuso had eight kills and seven aces in the shutout match.
The Cougars defeated the Blair Bengals at their Dig Pink Match, a breast cancer awareness fundraiser. Blair scored the first point, but after that QO took the lead back and dominated the rest of the game, with only eight errors to Blair’s 13. Senior Cristina Garcia’s two aces finished the game, 25-12. Mancuso shined during the second half; she made only one error and the rest of her game was spotless. Aces by Mancuso, Garcia, junior Marissa Youngs, junior Juliana Segura and Dagen contributed to the second game win. In the third game, the Cougars took the lead early on again. Fones’ ace scored the 10th point, solidifying the lead.
This had to be, in addition to a festive night that raised over $1,500 and cost Bureau 10 inches of her hair, one of the best matches of the season for the Cougars.
The Cougars had a rough go against Northwest, dropping all seven matches in straight sets to go 3-6 on the season.
Watkins Mill was 5-1 when the Cougars invaded their house for a crucial match to keep playoff hopes alive. It looked grim as sparkplug Nick Njuki missed practice this week and therefore didn’t start, and the Cougar attack suffered. Center mid Cheick Keite was off his game as well, but the defense was superb, yielding only a PK in the 13th minute.
The Cougars got their own freebie in the 28th minute, which Njuki converted. In the second minute of the second overtime period, Jorge Quintanilla’s excellent corner was volleyed in by Njuki, and he raced to the sidelines to hug Shannon Dwyer, the girls’ team captain. “I told her before the goal that I was going to score one for her.”
Dwyer is still recovering from a nasty cut on the knee and enjoyed the dedication, perhaps only a little less than Coach Kirk Myers appreciated the goal. “Jorge put it right there for Nick.”
In the last second, defender and senior AJ Hurwitz scored from in close off an excellent throw-in from Evan Burnham to end a tense battle at Damascus, 1-0 in double overtime. QO dominated field position early but could not get shots on the Hornets’ keeper. Then Quintanilla and Luis Zegarra began to fire rockets, and Jonny Barron increased his control of the midfield as QO tightened its hold on the game.
In the first overtime Hurwitz hit a blast that Matt Myers hit high over the goal off the rebound — a preview of what Hurwitz would do in the overtime. He buried Burnham’s perfect centering throw-in in the third minute.
“It was crazy,” he said after the game. “I hadn’t played in three weeks, and I dreamed of doing something like this. I saw the throw-in coming, and I knew it was my chance.”
QO continued their improving season, moving to 3-4.
In a mildly historic night for the Lady Cougars, freshman Mary McMeekin scored both goals — her first as a Cougar — and Kelsey O’Connor made her first start in net for Gabby Paolini, who suffered a concussion in the Poolesville game and was not cleared to play. The result was a gratifying 2-0 win for QO against Watkins Mill.
This was a match keyed by the defense, led by one of the few seniors on the team, Sami Slonim.
As for the young freshman, McMeekin grinned an assent to being kidded about getting two goals. “I’m a freshman, yeah, but it’s fun.”
Allie Solomon returned to the lineup after a couple of weeks off with a sprained ankle and played well, as did Lauren Holdsworth and freshman Vida Branco.
The girls went out and played their most spirited, emotional game of the year against Damascus, winning 3-1. It was clearly a superior team effort against an undefeated Swarmin’ Hornets team. Jessica Konecke was one of the many leaders for the Cougars, scoring the final goal after assisting to Kelly Whiteis on the first of 3. Damascus scored in the second minute and dominated play much of the first half. Even before Whiteis’s goal, however, the speed of the Cougars on the flanks — Konecke, Solomon and Chandler Holdsworth — was giving the larger Hornets fits. QO had the better of the shot opportunities near the end of the half and came out unyielding in the second half.
After the game Branco, whose first varsity goal as a freshman occurred in the 18th minute of the second half, said, “I just knew I had to knock it in.”
Whiteis, a pillar in the middle, said, “That’s definitely the best game we’ve played the whole season.”
“We needed to play outside where the goalkeeper couldn’t get them. It worked,” said Coach Peg Keiller.
Outstanding individual plays by Paolini in goal, Morgan Dorset at center-back and Konecke all over the field led the Cougars to a memorable win and took their record to 5-4.
Evan Hughes is going back to states, having finished second in the recent District meet with a 73. QO finished seventh out of 25 in the District competition, held at the Poolesville course.
The Cougars ran at Gaithersburg High School in a tri-meet against Gaithersburg and BCC. The girls beat Gaithersburg 15-45, but lost to BCC, the divisional champions, 34-31. The boys beat both teams: Gaithersburg, 21-38; BCC, 19-41. Kentlands senior captain Conor Spaulding set a course record, previously set in 2000, by two-time state champion, Marcus Hershberger. Spaulding’s time of 15:58 was the first to break 16 minutes since 1997.
“The girls are a team that is definitely getting better. … I think we would have won some of the earlier divisional meets if we were the team we are now. The team showed that it’s really ready to win the region, which has been our number one goal all season,” Coach Seann Pelkey said. “The boys’ team view themselves as one of the best teams in the 3A state and are really starting to show the swagger that championship teams have.”
QO finished its divisional season with a girls’ record of 2-3 and a boys’ of 4-1.
The Glory Days Invitational was held at Bull Run Park in Manassas, Va. The course, known for yielding fast times, did not translate that way for the Cougars this year. “We definitely didn’t have a good day. Some of us are either sick or taking care of some pains. I still think we should have raced better, and I know we are capable of winning big meets,” said Spaulding.
Freshman Bradley Shawen was an exception. Finishing with a time of 18:13, he placed second in the freshmen race.
The runners’ next meet is the Montgomery County Championships, which will be held at Gaithersburg High School on October 24.