For 110 minutes, Columbia Darby goalkeeper Bruce Engle watched his Commack (N.Y.) Connection counterpart make one great save after another.
After the teams played to a 1-1 draw, however, it was Engle who made the difference in the tiebreaker. His two diving stops propelled the Darby to a 4-3 win on penalty kicks for the boys under-17 crown of the 20th annual Columbia Invitation soccer tournament yesterday at the Fort Meade Parade Field.
While Engle stretched to his right to deny two of Commack's first three attempts, Ryan Smith, Marwan Tulloch, Kumi Walker and Brian West all found net to give the Darby the triumph.
West deposited the deciding penalty kick into the low left corner.
The Darby will play the Columbia Rangers on Sunday in the Maryland Cup U-17 final, hoping for a third straight Maryland title and an opportunity to regain the 1993 U.S. Youth Soccer Region I championship it relinquished last summer.
"Just a tuneup, a start to everything," Engle said of the triumph over Commack, which the Darby beat, 4-2, in overtime in Tampa, Fla., in December. "We start our season Sunday. This is just the beginning of how far we can go."
The Darby, which won six matches in the tournament's three days, seemed to have its title won in regulation, but 15 seconds into injury time and 30 seconds before the final whistle, Commack tied the game at 1-1. Todd Baron hit a 28-yard free kick off the top right corner of the goal frame, and an unmarked Bill Hurgo was first to the rebound, which he drilled from 6 yards into a unattended net.
"We let down for a second and it cost us," said Engle. Ronny Amaguana had given the Darby a 1-0 lead in the 49th minute, carrying down the right sideline before cutting toward the near post. He beat three defenders before putting a 6-yard, left-footer into the near corner.
The Baltimore Bullets took home the boys U-14 title with a 4-0 decision over Virginia Beach FC. Austen Colledge and Andy Faraone each had a goal and an assist. Goalkeeper Andy Hicks recorded his second shutout as the Bullets swept five games by a cumulative 15-3 score.
Michael Dello-Russo volleyed home a cross from Forrest Watson in the 14th minute to give the Columbia Strikers a 1-0 triumph over Pennsylvania's Mayfair Shamrocks for the boys U-12 crown.
The Delaware Amandla of Wilmington, with five players from Maryland, used three goals in the final 27 minutes to defeat the Columbia Storm, 3-0, in the boys U-18 final.
"I think it's great that an unknown Delaware team comes and beats a Columbia team here," said Amandla goalkeeper Damian Jagodzinski, a senior at North East High in Cecil County.
Rocky Niedrowski converted an assist from Tom McLaughin in sudden-death overtime to give FC Delco from the Philadelphia suburb of Delaware County a 2-1, come-from-behind victory over the Bethesda Wizards for the U-19 boys title.
The Chester (Pa.) Heat dropped the Baltimore FC in the boys U-13 final, 5-4, in penalty kicks after battling to a 1-1 draw. Ryan Wattenschaidt scored for Baltimore.
Northern Virginia's VISTA United beat Cincinnati's F. C. Hammer for the girls U-19 trophy with a 5-4 penalty-kicks edge after a 0-0 tie.
No Maryland girls teams advanced to the championship round.
Finals: Maryland team results
Boys U-19: FC Delco (Delaware County, Pa.) 2, Bethesda Wizards 1, OT. U-18: Delaware (Wilmington) Amandla 3, Columbia Storm 0. U-17: Columbia Darby 1, Commack (N.Y.) Connection 1 (Columbia wins, 4-3, on penalty kicks). U-14: Baltimore Bullets 4, Virginia Beach FC 0. U-13: Chester (Pa.) Heat 1, Baltimore FC 1 (Chester wins, 5-4, on penalty kicks). U-12: Columbia Strikers 1, Mayfair (Pa.) Shamrocks 0.