Juniors lift Bel Air over Franklin, 3-1 Trio scores goals to put Bobcats in region final

November 05, 1995|By Mark Hoeflich | Mark Hoeflich,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

In many ways, yesterday's Class 3A North regional semifinal game between Bel Air and Franklin was a matchup of similar teams.

Both teams have only one proven scorer -- Todd Tabor for Bel Air and Gene Balbir for Franklin -- and thus have relied all season, on their defenses to keep them in games. Each also has been a part of several one-goal games. More important however, if either team hoped to continue on in the playoffs, someone else would have to step up and score.

Mike Steinen, Chris Chumley and Billy Nelson, all juniors, made sure the host Bobcats (9-4-1) lived on for at least one more game, scoring a goal apiece to lead Bel Air to a 3-1 win over Franklin (10-4). The Bobcats outshot the Indians, 15-5, and their defense held Franklin to just one shot in the second half.

The win puts Bel Air in the regional finals Tuesday against rival C. Milton Wright, which beat the Bobcats, 1-0, three weeks ago for the Harford County title.

Despite keeping constant pressure on the Indians' defense for nearly the entire second half, the Bobcats couldn't convert until 5:20 was left in the game. That's when Chumley, who scored three goals all season, took a touch pass from Tabor and drilled a shot past Franklin goalie Alex Balbir (13 saves) to break a 1-1 tie.

"Tabor hooked the ball to me and it bounced off a defender, I just waited for it and was open for the shot," said Chumley. "I've had trouble all season scoring but this time it was good."

Nelson, a fullback, sealed the win with a goal off a penalty kick with 45 seconds to play. Nelson missed an earlier chance to move ahead, when Franklin was called for a handball violation. But his shot never got past the Indians' lined-up defense.

"There were just too many missed opportunities but I felt eventually some would go in," said Bel Air coach Bill Jefferson. "I told the kids at halftime, we don't want to come out of this game saying what could have been."

The Indians' defense of Christian Martin, Blake Kellner, Josh Radtka and Mark Stephenson turned in a strong effort but couldn't hold on after Franklin took an early 1-0 lead.

With a little help from the wind, Gene Balbir beat Bobcats defender Brian Malcolm and goalkeeper Ian Himmelheber for a 1-0 lead with 18:06 left in the half.

The lead was short-lived however, as Steinen punched a shot, off a corner kick from Tabor, past Alex Balbir to tie the game at 1.

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