HAMPSTEAD — There's an old saying that tall oaks grow from little acorns.
Well, it's also true that casually kicking a ball around can sometimes grow into a full-fledged league.
And, for a group of soccer veterans from the Finksburg-Deer Park area whose playing days would normally be just a memory, these humblebeginnings have grown into a championship.
The county team, playing as J.J. Gloss Blue, topped New Freedom, Pa., 7-3, to win the Four Seasons over-30 title Sunday afternoon at the Four Seasons Sports Complex.
Two Deer Park boys' teams also made the finals in this first-ever championship weekend at the facility.
But they were turned back as Pikesville won, 11-3, in the under-10 boys' championship, and Reisterstown prevailed, 3-0, in the under-12 Grey division title match.
Hereford teams beat Reisterstown in the under-12 girls' and under-12 boys' Blue divisional championship games.
First-place New Freedom had been tough on runner-up Gloss Blue during the regular season, beating and tying Gloss in two meetings.
But Gloss coach Chip Gachot, whose team went 4-1-1 during the season, nevertheless was confident entering the finale.
"To tell you the truth, I thought we outplayed them the first two games," he said.
But, he added, "They're a formidable opponent."
They weren't that formidable Sunday.
Paul Giove scored twice to give Gloss a 2-1 early lead. Then Laura Winter, the only woman on the team, and Mike Walsh, who owns the Gloss appliance store that sponsored the squad, also scored to make it 4-1.
Then Mike Santos who, at age 30, is one of the youngest Gloss members, scored three times to lock things up.
Gachot was pleasantly surprised.
"I think it's incredible that we did as well as we did because I've heard that New Freedom has played together several years," he said.
"We tended to click better than a lot of the teams. Weworked together and tried to help each other out there." Gachot said.
His players also have been together for a while -- in a way.
The seeds were sown in the fall of 1989, when Deer Park rec coaches began kicking the ball around in impromptu sessions after youth team soccer practices, Gachot said.
"What started with a couple of soccer nuts grew into 10 to 15 people and then became enough to play games," said the 36-year-old Gachot, who was one of those early participants.
Since then, they have honed their skills on various open fields in the Deer Park-Finksburg area and even indoors at Mechanicsville Elementary School near Gamber.
The games are of the casual, pickupvariety featuring mostly older players who generally have few other opportunities to play soccer.
But that group was a perfect match for the Four Seasons.
"We were very interested when we heard the Four Seasons was back together again," Gachot said.
He said he pushed the idea of an over-30 league with Jim Shenk, the facility's soccercommissioner.
By this time, his group was large enough to place two teams in the four-team circuit, which also allows women 18 and over.
"Everybody who signed up, played. We're not a select team," Gachot said, adding that the talent was split evenly among the two squads so both would be competitive.
The Gloss Red team went 2-2-2, andgave Blue a scare in the semifinals before bowing, 4-3.
Interest among older players evidently is still growing.
Gachot said Gloss will add a third team when the new indoor soccer session begins next week, and Shenk said the over-30 loop will jump from four to seven teams then.
Both Deer Park youth teams were underdogs as they entered this weekend's playoffs, which matched the top four regular-season finishers in each age-group division.
But both gave it a good fight before falling.
Chuck Kinney's under-10 team finished fourth in the regular season at 3-3-2 but topped second- place Hereford, which had already beaten them twice, 5-3, in Saturday's semifinal game.
Deer Park then faced first-place Pikesville, which it had beaten in aregular-season game.
Peter Shaffer gave the county team an early 1-0 lead, but Pikesville took over.
Josh Ches and John Snellinger scored the other Deer Park goals.
"I was pleasantly surprised the way they played. They played beyond all my expectations," said Kinneyof his youngsters, only two of whom had ever played indoor soccer.
"Pikesville just played their game," he added.
So did Reisterstown in the under-12 finale.
Deer Park under-12, also fourth in the regular-season, had already pulled the supreme upset in the semis when it upended previously unbeaten regular-season champ Westminster, 4-2.
Nicholas Beser scored twice and Zachary Taylor and Joey Horner once in that contest.
Deer Park coach Steve Maloff said he thoughthis team could go all the way.
"We tied the three teams above us (also losing a game to Reisterstown). It was a very balanced league and we could have won," he said.
He added that, with a few breaks, the finale could have "been a 4-3 game either way."