About three weeks ago, the South River boys soccer team sported a nifty 3-1 record, including wins over 4A opponents Old Mill and Glen Burnie.
Yesterday, after falling to host Severna Park, 2-0, the Seahawks found themselves virtually without any chance of repeating last year's 10-4-1, Class 3A Region IV championship season.
Thanks to a dominating Severna Park offensive attack punctuated by first-half goals from Steve Neuberger and Brian Peterson, veteran coach Greg Carroll's squad dropped its fourth straight game, leaving it at a less-than-spectacular 3-5.
"If I knew the answer to what iswrong with us, I'd have a degree in psychology," said Carroll with achuckle. "But really, all
along I've been saying that if our halfbacks could rise to the occasion, we'd be OK, but lately, they haven't.
"The first couple of games, our fullbacks and our line were able to make the link with our halfbacks, and now that link is coming upa couple steps too short each time, and we're losing the ball. And that's been the story of our season."
Severna Park improved its record to 7-0 with its sixth shutout of the year -- increasing its regular-season winning streak to 35. Although the Falcons dominated offensively throughout the game with their trademark ball control, their coach is less than content with their offensive production of 19 goals this season.
"If you work the ball around enough, and you get enough opportunities, you should be able to cash in on them. But we're not doing that as often as we should. I thought we'd be averaging a fewmore goals at this point," said Coach Don Gregg.
It took the winners 32 minutes to score, as Steve Neuberger booted in a loose ball off a corner kick from Ryan Voegtlin.
Less than six minutes later, Severna Park's leading scorer Brian Peterson (nine goals) made the most of a defensive miscue between sophomore fullback Jeff Schrumm and newly appointed first-string goalie Chris Love, who had nine saves forthe game. He tucked in a short-range shot from a difficult angle, tying a school record with 40 career goals, set by 1984 graduate and former Drexel (Pa.) University player Rodney Long.
"Our (full)backs Kevin Schultz, Jaime Cornett and Neuberger did a very nice job today.Our whole defense has done a pretty good job so far," Gregg said.
Junior striker Neil Smith came the closest to scoring for South River during the first half, missing a rebound shot from teammate Shawn Wells wide right.
The Falcons continued to pelt the visitors' goal during the second half, as Love was knocked out of the game during the middle of the period. Kevin Collison came on in relief, making fivesaves.
"Hopefully, Kevin's head is squared away now. He just suffered a little confidence problem that began in the Broadneck game (a 2-1 loss that began the four-game losing skein)," Carroll said. "I think he's a lot better now. He just needed a little time to work things out in his mind."
South River's Jaime Trimmer's left-footed shotfrom 25 yards out sailed inches over the crossbar with 13 minutes left in the game.
The Falcons will put their winning streak to the test Saturday, when they play host to 6-1 Meade.
"Meade is going tobe a pretty good test for us," said Falcons keeper Jason Zaks, who grabbed six saves during the game. "Those guys are playing pretty goodball right now, and we've been playing lackadaisical. We have to be able to finish these teams off. They'll definitely be a good test forus."