With a brisk wind gusting toward Towson's goal in the second overtime of yesterday's Class 2A state final at Old Mill, Generals fullback James Shaffer helped batten down the hatches.
Knowing that one good Rockville kick with the wind and past the defense could spell the end of an undefeated season, Shaffer offered a few words of encouragement to the other Towson defenders.
"I just told them to play hard, and to boot the ball away if it got through to them," he said. "It was pretty scary. With the wind blowing at us, the pressure was just so intense."
In that respect, the Generals were happy to end the game with a 0-0 tie and a share of the state Class 2A title. Still, the game ended an otherwise unblemished season on a sour note.
"It's better than second place, but it wasn't really what we wanted," said goalie David Davick.
Added forward Michael Henning: "I'd rather go out co-champion than runner-up, but I was hoping to win it."
Though the Generals (15-0-1) outplayed the Rams (11-2-3) for the majority of the game, outshooting them by a 17-5 margin, they were never able to put the ball into the net.
"I thought our team controlled the game," said Towson coach Paul Becker. "The guys were disappointed that they didn't win it outright, but I'm pretty happy about the way we played."
With the wind at their backs in the first half, the Generals dominated play, and nearly scored midway through the period. With 17 minutes, 22 seconds to play before halftime, Henning's shot from 20 yards out hit the higher of two crossbars, rendering it out of bounds, and ricocheted to teammate Ben Donovan, who put it in for naught.
Then, just seconds into the second half, Scott Hasson fired a shot on a breakaway that landed just wide of the far post.
The Generals had yet another scoring chance with 15:55 left, when Henning's direct kick deflected off a Rockville defender and was barely tapped away by a diving C.J. Norton in goal.
The only other real chance for Towson came in the second 10-minute sudden-death overtime period, when, with 5:07 left, Ian Wildey sent a grounder inches wide of the goal from 15 yards out.
Meanwhile, the Generals defense kept the ball out of its end of the field, knocking away just about every ball that rolled past midfield.
Said Rockville coach Larry Nuzzaci: "We were the underdogs, so we didn't have much pressure on us. Also, I think our tougher schedule helped us. Really, though, it just seems to me that these two teams were very, very even. About as even as you can get."
Said Shaffer: "We should've won. I feel like we deserved to win. I guess we can live with being co-champions."