No matter how hard it tries, the Southern boys soccer team just can't escape those gut-wrenching, one-goal losses.
In yesterday's gamewith previously winless Annapolis, Panthers' striker Lars Schultz lobbed a right-footed shot into the right-corner of the net 8 minutes, 42 seconds into the first overtime for a 1-0 victory.
Southern (1-5) had lost to 4A opponents Arundel (2-1), Glen Burnie (1-0), Old Mill (2-1) and Meade (2-1), before downing Bay Division opponent Queen Anne's, 2-1, on Tuesday.
"We're playing well, but this season, we're playing a lot bigger schools and we're hanging in there tough. But we're just not playing well enough to win," said Bulldogs coach Jonathan Braun.
"We're playing well, but we've got to do something to get us over the hump."
The hosts had a chance to dojust that with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, when Sean Knapp gathered a loose ball in traffic in front of the goal. But the reserve midfielder booted a shot high over the crossbar.
Ten minutes earlier, senior striker Chris McQueeny rushed down the middle on what appeared a possible one-on-one opportunity with Annapolis goalkeeper Jak Karl (nine saves). Defender Craig Harrison thwarted the charge, however, by taking McQueeny off the ball with a hard slide tackle.
The win has "been a long time coming, but we did a nice job,"said Panther coach David Gehrdes, whose team is 1-1-1. "We had some real good opportunities in the first half, but we just didn't capitalize. We played pretty well defensively, even though we had a couple breakdowns, especially near the end of the game. But luckily they didn't cost us."
Before his winning goal, Schultz had seven shots thateither hit the crossbar, sailed over the bar, were blocked by defensemen in front of an open net, or were redirected by keeper Matt Davidson (11 saves).
"Their defense really clogged it up inside," said the junior. "We had to take the ball wide and change fields because they were getting back and clogging things up so much."
Annapolis, the deeper of the two teams, outshot the Bulldogs, 19-11.
"We're at a real disadvantage because we're not a real deep squad," Braun said. "We're a small team, and we need to stay in the ballgame any way we can. We normally play a counterattacking game. We look to score on the transition."
"The level of play in this county is so good," headded, "that we've got to kick and scratch and do everything we can to stay into a game. We may have to start bringing more guys up on offense. But the counterattacking style has kept us in a lot of games."
Gehrdes said, "This game is going to help us later, now that we've finally won. But it's not that we haven't been competitive. We've been competitive with everybody, but I think it'll give us a lot more confidence down the road."
It doesn't get any easier for Southern,which must face 3-0 Severna Park (Oct. 1), 3-0 Chesapeake (Oct. 8), and 3-2 Bay Division foe South River (Oct. 15) in its next three games.
"Right now, the kids are disappointed," Braun said. "But I'd rather be losing one-goal ballgames than being blown out, because that means we can make some changes and we can win some games. But they'restill hungry."