Severna Park's 2-0 loss to Bowie in boys soccer yesterday was a shame.
It was a shame that it took such a one-sided loss -- in which the Falcons got off only three shots the entire game -- to showcase the defensive brilliance of Severna Park's junior goalkeeper Jason Zaks.
Officially, Zaks recorded six saves in the game.
But that stat does not fully represent Zaks' acrobatics and decision-making, which kept the score of the game respectable.
Zaks knew he was in for a game against the Bulldogs (4-0), who are ranked No. 2 in the Washington area and 10th nationally.
"I've played soccer with about 10 of the guys on their team, and I was just up for the game," said Zaks, who has not practiced for two weeks because of a bone fracture in his left wrist.
Bowie has outscored its opponents, 17-3, including a 2-0 shutout of the Baltimore area's top-ranked Oakland Mills.
But Severna Park (5-2) held the Bulldogs scoreless until the 34-minute mark of the game when Mark Jonas hit a direct kick shortly after Nate Rippel tackled Jonas hard in the box.
After two teammates passed up the shot, Jonas sent a booming volley around the left side of the Falcon's five-man defensive wall and straight into the back of the goal. The ball went in just a hair below the crossbar.
"I was aiming for the upper corner because I thought I could bend it around them," said Jonas, an under-17 national team member who has scored three goals this season.
When the Bulldogs couldn't bring the ball through the middle of the Falcons' shell-like defense in the first half, Bowie coach Rich Kirkland had his players test the corners more in the second half.
"They were very solid down the middle so we took their fullbacks to the outside," said Kirkland. "We felt the outside was their weakness, and that we could bring Jason out of the goal that way."
The strategy worked, producing Jonas' second goal with 19:04 left in the game.
Moments earlier, Zaks used both hands to stop a blistering Jonas shot to the upper left corner.
Even Kirkland, who is a neighbor of Zaks' in the Berrywood community of Severna Park, admired his aggression.
"That was a very nice stop -- and to think he's playing with a broken wrist," said Kirkland.
Zaks said, "I played with the injury against Arundel (a 3-0 victory last Thursday) but I wasn't really tested. I knew Bowie wasn't going to be a picnic, and I had to play with pain. It was a great challenge for me.
Under the circumstances, a 2-0 loss to this team is better than an easy 8-0 win."
Bowie's tireless efforts limited the Falcons to just one first-half shot -- a weak boot off the left foot of Mark Budzinski that sailed harmlessly to the far left of Bowie keeper Blake Hunter.
Bowie already had a 2-0 lead on Jonas' second goal and a 6-0 edge in second-half shots before the Falcons had taken their first of two second-half shots. The Falcons were outshot, 14-3, for the game.
For most of the game, Falcons defenders Nate Scheck, Rippel, Steve Neuberger and Jason Alvey packed the middle of the box and were careful not to deflect the ball off the end line.
Instead, the Falcons defenders sent the ball out of bounds across the sidelines, limiting the Bulldogs' corner kick opportunities to just two in each half.
When the Bulldogs did get behind the Falcons' defense, Zaks came out of the goal to either smother the ball or strip it away from their feet time and again.
The victory gave Bowie a 4-0-1 record against the Falcons, having beaten them in the state semifinals in 1980 and the state finals in 1982.
The two teams tied for the 1983 state title.
In their regular-season meeting a year ago, the Falcons were beaten, 3-2, at home on a Matt Hoskins goal in the final 50 seconds.