When last we watched the Severna Park and North County boys soccer teams playing against each other, the Falcons defeated the Knights, 1-0.
That game, played 10 months ago at North County, was the regular season finale for both squads. It marked the only regular season loss for the 11-1 Knights and the 28th consecutive victory for the Falcons against a county rival.
But Saturday's rematch, won by the host Falcons, 3-0, bore littleresemblance to last season's scorcher -- though it was played at a highly physical intensity.
Severna Park (3-0) was the more dominantteam, having returned nearly all of its starters from last year's 10-3 squad. The Knights (1-2), the dominant team a year ago, had just three returning players -- and just one starting senior -- from a squad that dropped the Region IV championship, 2-1, to eventual Class 4A state runner-up Broadneck.
Severna Park scored just a minute and 26 seconds into Saturday's game, when striker Peter Joergensen, an exchange student from Copenhagen, Denmark, tapped in a cross from seniormidfielder Brian Peterson.
Senior David Rupert tallied off a throw-in from Kenny Taylor fora 2-0 halftime lead and sent a low cross toPeterson for the games' final goal with 15:53 remaining.
The Falcons had a 19-3 advantage in shots.
"They're (North County) not as strong as they were last year and we're as good, if not better than we were," said 18-year coach Don Gregg, whose Falcons won their 31st straight county league game. "Although we didn't play real well today,the kids have set really high goals for themselves. And we're going to get better, providing we just keep escalating our level of play."
The level of physical contact rose midway through the first period, shortly after Severna Park's senior keeper Jason Zaks dove for a save and took an errant kick across the forehead from North County striker Shawn Moyer.
Zaks, who was replaced by Kevin Brought and did not return until the second half, said, "The game got out of hand after that."
It featured forearm shivers and elbow shots. There was shirt-grabbing and leg-snagging.
Among the casualties was North County sophomore Mike Malone, son of Knights' coach Steve Malone, who sprained his ankle after being tripped up.
Joergensen was sidelined after being kicked in the head late in the second period.
In all, the Falcons had 26 fouls, compared with 12 for the Knights.
"I thought (the referees) should have controlled the game more," said Zaks, who recorded his third shutout -- one less than he had last year. "But that's no excuse for the way we played. We were a little lackadaisical today. We need a little more focus."