WESTMINSTER - Westminster Wolves coach Mike Haddock was displeased with his team's effort in the first half of Sunday afternoon's Mason-Dixon soccer league match against the North Carroll Arrows at East Middle School.
The two Carroll squads were knotted 1-1 at that point.
"We weren't aggressive in the first half. We'll have to get fired up," said Haddock, just before talking to his players at intermission.
He probably should have saved his breath.
His team was buried, as the Arrows erupted for four goals in the second half and coasted to a 5-1 verdict.
North Carroll improved to 3-2-1, just behind first place Middletown, which also won Sunday and is 4-2 in the tightly-contested Mason-Dixon Southern Division.
Westminster fell to 1-4-1 in that division, but may still make the playoffs if it can place among the top four regular-season finishers in the five-team circuit.
But it must quicken its pace.
The Arrows were far more aggressive Sunday and continually got to the ball faster than did Westminster.
Its attackers, particularly in the second half, often met little resistance when bringing the ball into the Westminster end.
Haddock said North Carroll is more talented than is his team, but added, "We didn't have the speed at defense or midfield. There were also mental breakdowns, and people sometimes didn't know who to cover."
He attributed at least part of the breakdown to the fact that his players hail from different places and teams and haven't yet jelled.
"We're a hodgepodge of players to say the least," Haddock said.
North Carroll stayed in the Westminster end most of the game, constantly attacking.
Arrows coach Ross Burbage said that style comes naturally to his team, which is loaded with former North Carroll High players.
"North Carroll High plays in-your-face soccer," he explained.
The only real Westminster thrust came near the end of the first half when Ron Gorby's goal tied the game.
The rest of the time, Westminster goalkeeper Steve Kotter was continually pressed and only good saves on his part kept the final score from being higher.
Craig Mercer, a mid-1980s North Carroll grad, was a major antagonist, assisting on two goals with corner kicks and booting in the clincher himself.
His tally, 18:47 into the second 45-minute half, came out of a scramble in front of the Westminster net, putting the Arrows ahead 3-1.
"We just let down after that third goal," said Haddock.
North Carroll, on the other hand, was hot from the start, blasting numerous shots on goal or just missing.
Mercer set up the afternoon's first score with a corner kick which Ian Jones headed into the net midway in the first half.
Then, near the end of the half, the Arrows mishandled the ball in their end, Gorby took it away from keeper Mike Byer, and booted it in from directly in front of the goal.
North Carroll, however, recovered quickly the second half.
At 13:44, Mercer got another corner kick assist when Marty Rill headed the ball into the net, breaking the tie.
About five minutes later, Mercer scored, and Westminster began fading quickly.
Not long afterward, Sean White dribbled down the left sidelines past several Westminster defenders, lofted a shot in front of the goal and Bill Meredith punched it in with a flying head shot.
It became 5-1 a few minutes later as Rill scored his second goal of the game, this coming on a 20-yard boot from head-on after Westminster failed to clear the ball.
Despite the relatively easy win, Burbage said tough games remain, and his squad must do some jelling of its own to be a factor in the playoffs.
"We have to get the teamwork down," he said, adding that there are new players who must be worked into the team's flow.
But Burbage looks forward to those playoffs, from which the Arrows, 10-2-1 last year and tied for first in the regular season, were ejected after only one game.
The Arrows helmsman said the Pennsylvania teams that perennially dominate the Mason-Dixon league may be in for a jolt this time.
"We're ready to kick some Pennsylvania team right out of there," Burbage said.