Oakland Mills' top-ranked soccer team kicked off its season yesterday with a 3-0 victory over Loyola, an unranked MSA A Conference team.
The Scorpions, who are scheduled to play four games in next seven days, including one with upstart Calvert Hall tomorrow, were hoping to have the game in the bag by halftime to rest their starters, but the Dons had other plans.
Loyola (1-1) held its Howard County opponent scoreless through the first the 33 minutes, 20 seconds of the game before Oakland Mills striker Michael Fitzgibbon buried a shot in upper right corner of the net past the outstretched hands of Loyola keeper Doug Renner.
Oakland Mills had other opportunities to score in the first half, including a penalty shot in the waning seconds, but came up empty.
"We wanted to score early and we didn't do that and we wanted to be up by two at the half and that didn't happen either," said Oakland Mills coach Don Shea. "But, it's always nice to get that first one out of the way."
Oakland Mills (1-0) started slowly in the second half but once it gathered momentum, couldn't be stopped. Lopoca Trout took some pressure off the Scorpions defense 14:10 into the period when he headed a hooking assist pass from senior Clint Peay off the left sidebar and into the web.
Peay closed out the scoring at the 5:10 mark on a goal that undoubtedly earned him the respect of Renner. On the play, Renner bobbled a save only to have it peeled away from his chest by Peay, who instinctively rifled it into the back of the net.
Renner had his hands full in the net for the Dons and finished with 10 saves. Oakland Mills goalie Tony Richmond snagged five.
"That's the best Oakland Mills team I've ever seen," said Loyola coach Jim Claborn. "I didn't see one weakness on their team.
"Every one of their players has excellent speed and the foot skill to go by you at any given time," he said. "When you go against a group like that, they're hard to beat."
Howard 2, Calvert Hall 1
No. 2 Howard put its home-field advantage to good use in beating No. 10 Calvert Hall.
The Lions (2-0), playing on a surface much narrower than the 70-yard ones Calvert Hall (0-1) is used to, was successful in keeping the action in the middle of the field.
Striker Josh Smith kicked the game-winner for Howard with 10 minutes left, after missing three earlier shots he thought he should have made.
"I was beginning to wonder if I ever would make one," Smith said. The shot was from 18 yards out and off the hand of goalie Larry Rohleder.
Earlier, Rohleder had the misfortune of falling down as he was backpedaling on Howard's first goal -- a 55-yard boot by Chris Smith, Josh's brother.
"It was the longest goal I ever made," said Chris Smith.