Fallston's Cindy Jenkins used a mean left hook Wednesday night to knock C. Milton Wright's girls soccer team out of first place in the Harford County league.
The junior halfback scored the winning goal on a hooking direct kick late in the first half to give Fallston a 1-0victory.
The win forced a three-way tie in the county title race. C. Milton Wright, Fallston and Joppatowne all have one loss going into the final week of the regular season. Since Fallston plays Joppatowne tomorrow night, the winner will most likely share the title with the Mustangs.
The Cougars (4-5 overall, 4-1 league) can thank Jenkins' hookand some solid defensive play for keeping them in the title race.
"(Coach Nancy) Ferguson always kids me about that hook," said Jenkins. "Before I scored, my goal kicks were hooking out of bounds. But I guess she's glad I have that hook now."
With eight seconds left inthe first half, a charging call against one of the Mustangs set up the direct kick.
Jenkins, a left-footed kicker, booted the ball from a couple yards inside the sideline on the right. It soared high andslipped into the net just inside the far post. Mustangs goalie Danielle Rivas never had a chance to save it.
Rivas had been the one player Ferguson thought might turn the game in C. Milton Wright's favor. The senior had six saves, but the Cougars didn't make her work veryhard for them.
The Cougars also got a strong performance in the goal from freshman Susie Harrison, who had 12 saves. But they also hadsome critical defensive plays, especially from veterans Jenkins and Jenny Colt.
The Mustangs (8-2-0, 5-1) had two good chances to score in the second half. Amanda McCulloch sent a sharp direct kick that Harrison batted away. A second quick shot sailed wide.
They barelymissed on another free kick with 25:31 left in the half. This time, the Mustangs set up right in front of Fallston's goal. The Cougars lined up shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the net, and after a few seconds of pingpong, Fallston booted the ball out to midfield.
"We hadsome chances," said Mustangs coach Ken Dawson. "Every time we've played them over the last few years, we've played tough."
Both teams are young. The Mustangs started three seniors, Rivas, Christie Ream and Stephanie Burnham, while the Cougars only started one, Colt. The Cougars, however, started five freshmen and C. Milton Wright, one.
Despite their youth, teams coached by Ferguson and Dawson are almost always in the hunt for the county title. The Cougars could have been in a position to take the championship outright if they hadn't lost, 2-1, to North Harford on Oct. 11.
Now, the Cougars will have to beat Joppatowne to retain a share of the title. That won't be an easy chore.
"What we need to do is stop Thori Staples," said Ferguson, of Joppatowne's talented striker. "But I don't think they're a one-dimensional team. Chrissy Maly is a very underrated player. She's a goodset-up girl and she's good coming in. We can't be so concerned aboutThori that we forget about everybody else."