The performance of the Anne Arundel Community College men's soccer team in a matchup yesterday with host Essex Community College was about as ugly as the game's weather conditions.
Playing in a steady downpour, the Pioneers yielded three goals within a 10-minute span in the second half to allow the Knights to secure a 3-0 victory.
The Pioneers (3-2) stayed with their hosts throughout the first half, which ended in a scoreless deadlock.
Anne Arundel, which fired four shots on goal in the first period compared to nine by the Knights, came within inches of taking the lead in the 37th minute. But Barry Connors' shot from 25 yards took an Essex bounce off the crossbar.
Chris Davis, the Pioneers' second-year keeper out of Meade, kept his team in the contest by recording seven first-half saves.
Essex (4-1-1), which is ranked No. 6 in the nation in the junior college polls, came out ready to go in the second half and quickly went to work on the Pioneers' defense.
From the outset of the second half, the Knights sprayed Anne Arundel's goal with shots, finally finding the net on a direct kick with 27 minutes and 15 seconds showing on the scoreboard.
After the goal, Essex came right back at the Pioneer defense, and 55 seconds later went ahead 2-0. Roberto Ascenzi put the Knights up by two when his shot glanced off the left sidebar and into the net.
Anne Arundel continued its struggle to get the ball past the midfield line but again and again was turned away. The Pioneers never even threatened to score, and in fact never put a shot on goal throughout the entire second half.
"They just controlled the game in the second half," said a drenched Anne Arundel coach Ken Wolf. "We just couldn't get it out of the defensive end (of the field)."
Ascenzi scored the game's final goal (and his second) with 16:38 remaining when he beat Brian O'Neill one-on-one almost inside the cage.
After the game, Wolf acknowledged that he was aware of the Knights' ability to produce goals quickly.
"They're known for scoring in bunches," he said. "They get one and before you know it they get another.
"That's the way it goes. You have to really suck it up defensively whenever they score and not let it get you down, or they're just going to keep coming back at you." Essex coach Pete Caringi happily agreed with Wolf's assessment of the Knights.
"Once we score it seems to relax us a bit," said Caringi. "We're an attacking team, and our philosophy is to try and go to goal. When you're not scoring it tightens you up, but once a goal comes it kind of relaxes you, and in turn, you create better opportunities for yourself."