No. 11 Fallston defeats Kent Island, 1-0
Middletown repeats as champ with 3-0 victory over No. 15 S. Carroll
After dominating the run of play for the first 49 minutes of its Class 2A East region final at Kent Island, but with nothing on the scoreboard to show for it, Fallston was rewarded with a penalty-kick opportunity after a hand ball was called in the box on a Buccaneers defender.
Jared Puglisi struck the ball to the left of Jackson Davis, but the sophomore goalkeeper sent it away. It was the kind of stop that could change a game’s momentum and serve as the impetus for a huge Kent Island victory.
Curtis Kassir made sure that was not to be.
With 22:42 remaining in the game, Kassir, a three-year starting center back for the Cougars, found the ball on his foot after it had bounced off a couple of players. The senior’s shot on goal was good for the only tally of a 1-0 victory.
No. 11 Fallston (14-3), which posted its 12th shutout of the season, advanced to play Eastern Tech on Friday or Saturday at River Hill, while Kent Island (14-2) saw its dream season come to an end.
“We wanted to take this one, you know,” Kent Island coach Lin Outten said. “I mean, we get the game at home. We earn the right to have the game at home, and we wanted to take it. We just couldn’t quite do it. I don’t know if we saw it like this all year. They were big and fast and confident, and seemed to be in every spot.”
Fallston had the resume of a team with high expectations of reaching the state tournament. Seventeen players had combined to score 62 goals coming into Tuesday night’s region final, while the defense had surrendered just six goals in 16 games. Kassir, Puglisi, Tim Mozingo and Andrew Solomon were fairly impenetrable again against the Buccaneers.
“Those guys are really good in the back, and Curtis has been back there for three years and does not get much credit,” Fallston coach Drew Bisker said.
The Cougars controlled possession and sent wave after wave at Kent Middletown’s Luke Ahalt and South Carroll’s Spencer Gleeson battle for a header. The Knights repeated as champions in the Class 2A West region. Island’s defense, working the ball adeptly through the air, which countered Outten’s ground-control plan.
“We are used to possessing the ball and keeping it on the ground, but they were constantly lifting it,” Outten said. “We seemed to deal with it very well, but it did give them a lot of corner kicks, and that is where they bring in their big bodies. It has worked well for them this season.”
It has. Kassir said Fallston scored all three goals in its section final win over Elkton off corner kicks, and its 7-0 advantage in such kicks against the Buccaneers did not bode well. At the same time, Fallston could not break through against Kent Island’s back line, either.
“Their defense played well; we could not penetrate it,” Bisker said. “Give them credit.”
With no score going into the second half, the Cougars pushed the tempo even more, and Davis was forced to make a diving stop of a shot by Jake Kauffman, who leads Fallston with 10 goals. The hand-ball call came a minute later. Puglisi, whom Bisker said normally goes high and to the left in penalty-kick situations, instead sent it low, hard and to the right. Davis guessed perfectly and sent it away for another corner.
“I was hoping that saved PK would charge us up, but we just did not have enough of the ball,” Outten said. “They just kept knocking every- thing back into our box.”
Just over eight minutes later, the Cougars had another corner kick, and this one brought Davis out and off his line, and Kassir took advantage.
“The ball was bouncing around and bounced off of, like, five people, and then off my foot and into the back of the net,” Kassir said. “We like to use corner kicks as a weapon, and we just stay with it and stay with it, and eventually we get one.”
MIDDLETOWN 3, NO. 15 SOUTH CARROLL 0: The host Knights (17-1) repeated as Class 2A West champs by shutting out the Cavaliers (10-4-3).
Middletown possessed the ball for most of the first half and converted a penalty kick with about six minutes remaining to grab the lead. The Knights kept their intensity up after the break and struck again midway through the second half.
Another goal in the final minutes cemented the win and gave the Cavaliers (10-4-3) a sinking feeling. But South Carroll coach Tim Novotny tried to look at the season as a whole.
“For some of them, we’ve had four years with each other,” Novotny said. “For eight of them, I coached them in club [soccer]. Hopefully, we taught them more than the game. Hopefully, we taught them how to be good, respectful men.”