Havre de Grace and Fallston both won regional boys soccer championships Thursday to advance to the state semifinals.
In Class 1A, Havre de Grace knocked off county rival Joppatowne, 2-1, in a game that was perfectly even until Jim Ervine scored the game-winner.
Both teams finished with 23 shots on goal. Jon Hanna had 14 saves for the Warriors and Brian Ward saved 17 for Joppatowne.
For the Warriors (8-5-1), this is the first trip to the state semifinals since 1986. Wilde Lake won the title that year after drubbing the Warriors, 17-0.
This time the Warriors expect their fate to be a little different.
Joppatowne did Havre de Grace a big favor in the regional semifinal by knocking out three-time defending state champ Perryville, 3-0, on Tuesday.
If Havre de Grace continues to win, much of the credit will go to the defense, an area that coach Alex Spooner had confidence in early on.
Senior sweeper Steve Gorham had another outstanding game against Joppatowne. Fullbacks Brian Smith and John Ryan and halfback Sean Smith also played well throughout the season.
"Having a strong defense right from the start has let us do some juggling to find the offense that can score consistently," said Spooner.
It took most of the season, but in the last five games, Spooner has settled on right wing Ervine, center forward Randy Wheeler and left wing Andy Deibel. All three had a hand in the scoring against Joppatowne.
Wheeler scored the first goal to give the Warriors a 1-0 halftime lead.
Deibel had assists on both Wheeler's and Ervine's goals.
In the second half, Joppatowne's Drew Swentzel tied the score on a feed from Mike Gohlinghorst with 15 minutes left.
Ervine's game-winner came five minutes later. Deibel maneuvered past one defender and crossed the ball, but it went past Wheeler and onto Ervine's foot. Ervine dribbled the ball to the left in front of the goal. When goalie Ward came out, Ervine passed him with a rolling shot.
The Warriors will play their semifinal game next Friday or Saturday night, although they won't find exactly where or when until today. Spooner said he expected the Warriors to be seeded third or fourth, but he said his squad has a good chance to make it to the state final.
"One advantage we do have is that Harford County soccer is pretty good," explained Spooner. "We have an opportunity to play Bel Air, Joppatowne, Fallston, C. Milton Wright. All of those are good teams, so we should be very well prepared."
In Class 2A, Fallston (10-3-1) surprised undefeated North East, 4-0, Thursday. The Cougars' diamond-back defense of Dave Bergman, Dave Luber, Chris Eatough and Shaun Lavin shut down a forward line that had scored more than 40 goals in 13 games.
Outside backs Bergman and Luber wouldn't let North East set up any kind of offense from the corners. North East, which hadn't been shut out all season, had gotten most of its goals started on the wings.
Steve Eisenmann had the big day offensively, with three goals and one assist. Tom Gould had the other goal. Gould also had an assist and Shane Dougherty had two assists.
Goalie Steve Chaires had seven saves. The junior had several outstanding stops in the final 10 minutes of the first half, the only time North East managed to dominate.