Old Mill passes Chesapeake, 2-1

November 09, 1994|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writer

Both teams had recovered from slow starts to get within reach of the Class 3A-4A East Region championship.

Old Mill took greatest advantage of the opportunity, however. And on the opposition's home field.

Senior halfback Kerri Smith headed in a corner kick from Jennifer Mazzola with 12:42 remaining to lead No. 11 Old Mill past No. 12 Chesapeake, 2-1, and into Saturday's state tournament at Catonsville Community College.

The Patriots (12-4) weren't exactly a safe bet to get there. They split their first four games and later stood at 5-4, but since have run off seven consecutive victories.

Sensing a change was needed, coach Bruce Sponsler switched some players to new positions, and the result was his fifth region title.

"We're very fortunate. The kids remained focused," he said.

Chesapeake (10-5-1) had even worse problems, starting off 1-2-1 before winning seven in a row. Injuries and a tough stretch of games contributed to its early struggles, which included a 3-0 loss to Old Mill last month.

"The kids took the attitude that, regardless of our won-loss record, we considered ourselves a good team with playoff potential," said coach Lin Sullivan. "We played to go as far as we could. I just wish it had been a little further, but I'm proud of the way the kids worked to get where they did."

Both goals in the first half yesterday came on penalty kicks. Old Mill's Carina Sonberg had her shot deflect off the right post and beyond Sandra Norris with 31:38 remaining, and Chesapeake's Melissa Wagner grounded the ball past Stephanie Rose with 16 minutes left.

Wagner had a few other chances in the half, but Old Mill stopper Denise King twice cut her off on apparent breakaways and cleared the ball.

Norris made a diving save on a liner by Sonberg. Rose charged out of the net to knock down a shot by Wagner, and later smothered a roller by Erin Thomas. And Wagner barely missed wide to the left after taking a pass from Chrissy Kohlhepp about nine minutes before halftime.

It wasn't until Mazzola sent a perfect corner kick to Smith, a reserve who has three goals, that the tie would be broken.

"Restarts are where 60 percent of the goals in soccer are scored," Sponsler said. "We work on our corner-kick play so many times, yet we haven't been very successful on it this year. Last year, we scored 13 goals on corner kicks, this year maybe two or three. Tonight, it paid off for us."

Said Sullivan: "I'm glad the game didn't hinge on the penalty kicks at the beginning. The way I look at it, it was a 1-0 ballgame that was decided on a dead-play situation, which is how goals are mostly scored when you get to this level."

Wagner almost pulled Chesapeake even again with 4:25 left when she got past Old Mill's defense, but her shot drifted wide to the right.

At that point, she knelt to the ground and buried her head in her hands. That would be the Cougars' last gasp.

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