Glenelg's boys soccer team passed what it considered a key test yesterday, dominating visiting Bel Air for a 7-0 victory.
Bel Air, ranked No. 11 last week, trailed only 2-0 at halftime, but fell apart in the second half against a slick-passing Glenelg attack that has scored 28 goals in four games.
The Gladiators' defense, led by goalie Russell Payne and sweeper Keever Frye, has allowed just one goal all season.
"After we won our first two games against Thomas Johnson and Edgewood we still weren't sure how well we matched up with other county teams," Glenelg coach John Bouman said. "But in our last two games against Spalding and Bel Air, we've been tested and passed. Centennial beat Bel Air, 3-0, and we beat Bel Air, 7-0."
Glenelg striker Renard Brown scored three goals in yesterday's rout, raising his league-leading total to eight.
The Gladiators attacked from the left wing frequently, getting 10 corner kicks and numerous throw-ins.
Five of the seven Glenelg goals were scored from the left side, a place where Jennings and his teammates also displayed a marked weakness against Centennial.
Brown scored Glenelg's second, sixth and seventh goals. The second goal, a penalty kick, delivered the knockout blow to Bel Air.
"We got down on ourselves after that goal," Bel Air coach Bill Jefferson said. "Usually when we get behind, we fight harder, but not today."
Jefferson didn't think much of the call that gave Glenelg the penalty kick. Referee Fred Ateto, however, vociferously defended the call, which came against Bobcats sweeper Tim Hintz.
"He [Hintz] went after the Glenelg player's foot deliberately trying to put him [Dan Gaertner] out of the game,"
Ateto said. "I will not tolerate that kind of behavior."
Brown also complained about Bel Air's rough play. "They were brutal," he said.
Brown booted the penalty kick past Bel Air goalie Ethan Jennings' right side 23 minutes into the first half. Glenelg's first goal had come at seven minutes, when Scott Cline headed in a throw-in by Marc Rey from the left side.
Fifteenth-ranked Glenelg (4-0) took the 2-0 lead into halftime.
Bouman thought the penalty kick was the game's turning point. Once you get a two-goal difference it gives you a huge lift, and it's going to be hard to score twice in one game on [goalie] Russell [Payne]."
Jefferson had nothing but praise for Glenelg.
"They [Glenelg] really passed well and had good aggressive play, not dirty," Jefferson said. "I thought they were a better team than Centennial. At least today they were."
The Gladiators made it 3-0 five minutes into the second half, as Chris Ecalono retrieved a deflected shot by Chris Vaccari on the left side and booted it into an open net.
Fifteen minutes later, Glenelg drew Jennings out of the goal on the left side and Gaertner scored.
Freshman Tony Marchegiano made it 5-0 by scoring from the far left side.
Then Brown scored from the middle with eight minutes left. He added a goal from the left side two minutes later.
hTC Payne, an Olympic Development regional team player, didn't get many chances to show off his goal-keeping talent. But he did make one spectacular save five minutes into the game.
"If Payne hadn't made that great save, it could have been an entirely different game," Bouman said. "Who knows how long they could have held a 1-0 lead?"
D8 Probably not too long. Glenelg outshot Bel Air 22-5.