Lopaka Trout scored four second-half goals, as top-ranked Oakland Mills (3-1) recorded its third shutout with a 5-0 victory over host and defending Harford County champion Bel Air yesterday.
The victory helped the Scorpions rebound from Monday's 2-0 loss to Bowie of Prince George's County and kept them in step with rivals No. 2 Howard (3-0) and No. 3 Centennial (2-0) in the race for the Howard County title.
"Their defenders weren't covering us too well, so Coach [Don Shea] told us to take them on," said Trout, a junior who has scored six goals in four games. "They were really garbage goals. The midfield did the work by getting the ball there.
"Then it was just a matter of me beating their defenders and putting the ball in."
Bel Air worked hard to make a game of it and had some success in the first half even after trailing, 1-0.
But Bel Air coach Bill Jefferson pointed to his team's inexperience on defense, especially when Trout stole the ball from a Bel Air defender and beat keeper Ethan Jennings for his third goal.
"We're working with only four starters from last year's team," said Jefferson, whose Bobcats won the Class 3A Region III title before losing in the state semifinals to Howard last year.
The Scorpions were missing three starting players -- sweeper Ryan Burke, fullback Dan Bickell and forward Mike Fitzgibbon (two goals) -- who were suspended for breaking a school regulation.
They were also without injured midfielder Malcolm Grace, who suffered a broken foot in Friday's 2-0 victory over Calvert Hall.