Tradition was of utmost importance in Friday's season-opening Severna Park-Arundel boys soccer game.
With his Falcons' 3-0 victory, Coach Don Gregg continued his winning tradition, while visiting coach Nick Jauschnegg picked up where his team left off last season.
"We were just trying to play well against them but we're awfully young," said Jauschnegg. "At one point we had just three seniors on the field. Another time, we had just one."
The Wildcats were 6-6 last year and missed the 4A playoffs for only the fourth time in his 14seasons.
"For a while, I thought, we hung with them. But when we got down, 2-0, I think that was just too much," Jauschnegg said.
Gregg said, "After losing our first game of the season last year against Centennial (a 4-0 loss) it's nice to get the first win under our belts."
The four-time defending county champion Falcons, who were denied a third straight Class 4A Region IV title by Broadneck, 2-1, last year, face Broadneck at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Gregg, who began his18th season, can thank senior All-County midfielder Brian Peterson for two second-half goals, which raised Peterson's career total to 32 goals with 12 assists. Peterson tallied unassisted at 6 minutes, 19 seconds of the second period and again on a penalty kick just five minutes later.
Gregg also can thank defender Kevin Shultz, who, sevenminutes into the game, collected a long ball out on the right side of the penalty box, juked a defender, dribbled twice and lifted a hooking volley over keeper Bryan Nehman. Nehman got his right hand on thewind-aided shot but couldn't stop it.
"I just aimed for the far corner and I didn't even know it was going in until I heard my teammates and the crowd screaming," said Shultz.
Nehman (14 saves) made several brave stops, either swiping the ball from the feet of various attacking Falcon players or thwarting them from close range.
"Thatgoal was very uncharacteristic of (Nehman), because I think he's oneof the best in the county," said Jauschnegg. "We were still in the game."
Schultz, a returning starter, also broke up a potential two-on-one situation against keeper Jason Zaks (three saves) in the firsthalf and was part of a defense that limited star striker Tony Fiaschetti to just one shot for the game. Arundel's other senior forward, Craig Dorsey, was benched for disciplinary reasons.
Schultz, who received little recognition in the preseason forecasts, joked, "I'm silent, but deadly."
So was the Falcons' midfield transition of Ryan Voegtlin, Mike Crawford and Kenny Taylor, which weaved an offense that spread nearly the width of the field once across the midfield stripe. Taylor subbed for injured starter Jamie Cornett who played sparingly in each period.
Up front, Peterson (11 goals, four assists lastyear) and junior Peter Joergensen, an exchange student from Copenhagen, Denmark, kept the Wildcats' defense on its heels with crisp, give-and-go passes and out-shot the visitors, 16-4, in the first half. The Falcons out-shot the Wildcats, 32-5, for the game.
Zaks entered last year's season-ending game against Broadneck with an 0.78 goals against average and 57 saves for the Falcons, who were 10-3.
"This time, we're ready for them," said Zaks, who recorded four shutouts last year. "It's nice to get this first one. We don't want to get scored on anymore."