Fallston gives Ferguson title, perfect ending

November 19, 1994|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Sun Staff Writer

Nancy Ferguson's long wait entered its final stages about 10 minutes into the state Class 1A-2A girls soccer championship game at North County last night.

The work ethic she had been preaching to her unbeaten Fallston team throughout the playoffs -- getting off to a quick start -- was on display for much of the first half as the Cougars took a three-goal lead in their title match with Oakland Mills.

The Harford County school, ranked No. 2 in the metro area, went on to complete a perfect season with a 3-1 conquest of the Scorpions in a game that began on a cool evening with a windblown mist making field conditions miserable.

The rain stopped by halftime and although the scoring did, too, for Fallston (17-0), there was no letup in its aggressive play. Reserves played much of the final 40 minutes, but unlike the state semifinal, where the Cougars got a 3-0 lead on Liberty, then allowed two late goals, the pressure remained.

For Ferguson, in her 10th year as head coach, this was a particularly memorable evening. Her soccer teams never had not gotten past the state semifinals, and she had previously guided girls basketball and lacrosse teams to state finals without

success. Finally, she had that elusive championship.

"We've played well all year," she said of a team that outscored its opponents, 102-8. "They support each other and their camaraderie has been great. Not only do they love each other, but they love the game. They don't need much motivation."

Fallston had beaten Oakland Mills (11-5-1) in the Cougars' second game of the season, 3-0, and, as Ferguson said, "To tell you the truth, I don't remember it. It might have been a psychological advantage, but we didn't talk about it."

Forget the psychology. Pure speed decided this one.

Fallston had been controlling the ball in its offensive end after a corner kick when Courtney Benner saw junior Beth Blasi open in the middle and pushed the ball across to her. Blasi's shot ripped past Oakland Mills goalkeeper Nyiesha Ford. It was the 18th goal the season for the team's two-time scoring leader.

Seconds later, the Cougars were back on the attack. This time, Benner, another junior, took a kick through from Megan Tulley and the ball bounced off her thigh into an unprotected corner of the net. Eighty-seven seconds had elapsed between the goals.

"They're faster than we are," said second-year Oakland Mills coach Steve Matters, who directed a team written off in preseason to within a game of the title. "They were a little lucky, but we were a little disorganized, too, especially on that second goal."

That may have been because they were the first goals the Scorpions had allowed in five playoff games.

"The third one was the backbreaker," Matters said.

Ford had made a great stop on a shot from 15 yards out, but the ball went off her hands and straight up, then hit the bottom of the crossbar and dropped almost on the foot of Cindy Wolf, who nudged the ball into the goal. There still were nearly seven minutes left in the half.

Maureen Brudzinski, one of three senior starters for the Howard County team, got her team's goal on a pass from Ginny Dye with five minutes left in the game. For team scoring leader Dye, it was a 13th assist to go with 17 goals.

Beth Rappold, one of several Fallston players shifted between the back and the midfield during the season, started in the middle, but dropped back to stopper after the first goal.

"I went back more for support. The key was keeping the ball wide so it took them longer to set up," she said.

The victory was especially meaningful for Fallston, because this was its last soccer game in Class 1A-2A. The Cougars are moving to 3A next fall, and as senior Jenny Weber said, "This was a consideration. We wanted to go out a winner."

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