Pointer boys ti­tle de­fense ends with stun­ning loss to Raiders

Loch Raven ral­lies to win in over­time, 2-1

The Dundalk Eagle - - SPORTS AND RECREATION - By BILL GATES bgates@ches­pub.com Fol­low me on Twit­ter @DEa­gle_s­ports

Less than 15 min­utes away from es­sen­tially lock­ing up a se­cond straight re­gional ti­tle and a berth in the state semi­fi­nals, Class 1A de­fend­ing state cham­pion Spar­rows Point in­stead saw its sea­son come to a sud­den end.

Loch Raven tied the game with 14:40 re­main­ing, then scored the win­ning goal one minute into over­time to stun Spar­rows Point 2-1 on Fri­day in the Class 1A North Re­gion semi­fi­nals.

The Raiders ad­vanced to play Ben­jamin Franklin in the re­gional cham­pi­onship game. Loch Raven, as Spar­rows Point would have been, is vir­tu­ally a lock to de­feat the Bal­ti­more City school.

The end came quick: After an ini­tial Spar­rows Point foray into Loch Raven’s end of the field, the Raiders gained pos­ses­sion of the ball and brought it up the right wing.

Granted a throw-in, Loch Raven put the ball right on the near post. It was knocked away to the right, where a Raider player was wait­ing to pole it into the next as the ball landed on the ground.

Spar­rows Point had beaten Loch Raven dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, but only by a score of 2-1. So the Point­ers knew to ex­pect a tight battle.

Av­er­ag­ing nearly five goals a game in the 13 games prior, Spar­rows Point could sud­denly not find the net. The Point­ers could rarely get off a shot, thanks to the tight, pres­sur­ing de­fense em­ployed by the Raiders.

Spar­rows Point ball­han­dlers could not find room to shoot, de­spite good ball move­ment.

Still, the Point­ers seemed to be in good shape when Ben Hester found a way around the tight de­fense by go­ing above it.

Hester scored on a header off a long pass to give Spar­rows Point a 1-0 lead with 26 min­utes re­main­ing.

It could have been enough against, re­al­is­ti­cally, the only team in the Class 3A North re­gion with a chance of beat­ing Spar­rows Point. But the Raiders man­aged to find a crack in the Pointer de­fense and forced over­time.

Spar­rows Point ended the sea­son with a 9-4-2 record. Last sea­son, the Point­ers took a los­ing record into the play­offs en route to win­ning the Class 1A state ti­tle.

Loch Raven after the ex­pected vic­tory over Ben­jamin Franklin, will face ei­ther In­ter­na­tional-Langley Park or In­ter­na­tional-Largo in the state semi­fi­nals.

Spar­rows Point’s op­po­nent in last year’s state fi­nal, Pat­ter­son Mill, has al­ready won the East Re­gion ti­tle and will play ei­ther Moun­tain Ridge or Clear Spring in the state semi­fi­nals.

Dun­dalk ended its sea­son with a 3-0 loss at C. Mil­ton Wright in the se­cond round of the Class 3A North Re­gion Sec­tion II tour­na­ment.

The Point­ers ad­vanced to the sec­tional fi­nal against Loch Raven by de­feat­ing 2016 Class 1A state champ Pikesville 6-0 on Oct. 30.

Spar­rows Point play­ers at­tempt to clear the Loch Raven throwin that led to the win­ning goal for the Raiders.

PHOTOS BY BILL GATES

A Spar­rows Point player re­acts against the back­ground of Loch Raven cel­e­brat­ing its up­set of Class 1A de­fend­ing cham­pion Spar­rows Point with a 2-1 vic­tory in over­time in the re­gional semi­fi­nals.

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