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Friday, November 4, 2011
Weekend Watch: Five must-see matches

By Sheldon Shealer

Ashley Spivey
Ashley Spivey (in black) leads McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) into the IAAM final this weekend, which will mark the end of his stellar high school career.
Each week during the high school season, ESPNHS highlights five weekend matches that have a compelling storyline or could have significant state, region and/or national implications.

This week, Tennessee takes center stage with three POWERADE FAB 50 top 15 programs battling it out for two state states.

Friday, Nov. 4

No. 6 Baylor (Chattanooga, Tenn.) vs. Father Ryan (Nashville, Tenn.). Baylor can inch closer to a POWERADE FAB 50 Top 5 finish if it wins this weekend’s Tennessee Division II-AA state title. But first up is a semifinal match against Father Ryan, which Baylor defeated 2-0 earlier this season. Baylor advanced to the semifinals with a 4-0 win over Brentwood Academy (Brentwood, Tenn.). Senior Kelly Pannell, a Western Carolina commit, scored twice. If Baylor reaches the final, it likely will face defending champ St. Agnes (Memphis, Tenn.).

Saturday, Nov. 5

No. 7 Franklin (Franklin, Tenn.) vs. No. 13 Farragut (Knoxville, Tenn.). Franklin has a chance to justify a move to No. 1 in Tennessee if it closes out a perfect season with a win over a fellow nationally ranked program. Franklin, the original state power in Tennessee, is aiming for its 11th state title since girls’ soccer became a sanctioned sport in 1986, but its first since 2003. Franklin was a state runner-up the past two years. Farragut, meanwhile, is aiming for its first state title. Farragut reached the final with a shootout victory over FAB 50-ranked and defending state champ Houston (Germantown, Tenn.). Franklin cruised to a 7-1 state semifinal win over Soddy-Daisy (Soddy-Daisy, Tenn.) behind two-goal efforts from Chesney White, Lyndie Donegan and Liza Harbin.

No. 8 Strongsville (Strongsville, Ohio) vs. Jackson (Massillon, Ohio). Strongsville appears to be getting stronger as the season moves on. Strongsville is averaging just under five goals per match since the start of October, which includes four playoff games that were never in doubt. Jackson, meanwhile, has flown well beneath the radar in Ohio, despite an undefeated record and a tie with POWERADE FAB 50 No. 3 Walsh Jesuit (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio). The winner will move on to the state semifinals and justify a national ranking.

No. 12 Pennridge (Perkasie, Pa.) vs. Council Rock North (Newtown, Pa.). In the highly competitive District 1-AAA tournament, seldom do the top seeds make it through to the final, but it’s happened this year. Pennridge is riding a 14-match win streak en route to a 20-1 record. Council Rock North enters at 18-2. Regardless of the outcome, both teams have already secured places in next week’s PIAA Class AAA state tournament.

Sunday, Nov. 6

No. 20 McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) vs. Archbishop Spalding (Severn, Md.). Years go by and it seems there’s seldom any change in the IAAM powers. Archbishop Spalding, only two years removed from a POWERADE FAB 50 Top 5 finish, has survived a few regular-season slip-ups to land back in the IAAM final. McDonogh, which already has a 2-0 win over Spalding this season, will be favored in this match-up of programs that have dominated the past 10-15 years of Baltimore private school soccer. The match will also mark the end of the high school career of McDonogh sensation Ashley Spivey, a U.S. Youth National Team member who was able to honor national, club and high school commitments the past four seasons.