Towson, on the brink of elimination, refused to quit, as it scored twice in the last three minutes to forge a 3-3 tie, but North Harford dominated the eventual shootout last night to move on to the Class 2A North regional final against Patapsco.
North Harford (11-3) made nine straight shots in the shootout, and after goalkeeper Brock Jourdan stopped his rival number, Bryan Lambert, on the Generals' opening try, the visitors were waging what turned out to be an unsuccessful uphill battle.
This turned out to be a physical contest and when it was over there had been one red card and two yellow cards for North Harford and four yellows for Towson (6-6-2).
The Harford County school, which had built a 3-1 lead and was seemingly in control, had the roof fall in during the closing moments.
In fairly rapid succession: There was a red card to the Hawks' Randy Williams for a flagrant foul; a successful penalty kick by Towson's Adam Wierman after he was taken down in the box; a yellow card to Jourdan for repeated taunting; and, with 52 seconds remaining in regulation, a goal by Wierman after backup keeper Mike Scott had sacrificed himself in coming out to make a save on Fred Metschulat. Wierman's shot went into an open net.
"We let them back in it," said North Harford coach Ed Zorn. "And after we were a man down, I had to shift some people around."
The home team had some decent scoring chances in the two 10-minute overtime periods, forcing Lambert to make four saves, but realistically both coaches were thinking shootout.
"I knew this one could come down to a shootout," Towson coach Randy Dase said. "We spent 40 minutes on it in practice. They're a very talented team and there were some players who concerned us."
Said Zorn: "We know if it comes to a shootout, we'll win. We work on it."
This was the team's second straight shootout triumph, after getting past Catonsville the same way last week.
"Overall, we've played better than I expected. They have done everything I've asked of them, and more," Zorn said.
Josh Westervelt opened the scoring for the Generals, converting a pass from Wierman nearly 13 minutes into the game.
Chris Roberts tied it on a penalty kick 10 minutes later, and then the tandem of Phil Gilotte, assisted by Ryan Renfrow, worked for two goals, the first seven minutes before the half, the other seven minutes into the second half.
* Sparrows Point 6, Bohemia Manor 1: Joey Wilson had two goals and two assists and Sean Volz scored twice, leading Sparrows Point (9-4-1) past Bohemia Manor (9-4) in a 1A North region semifinal at Elkton.
* Hereford 1, Smithsburg 0: Hereford (7-6-1) broke a double-overtime, scoreless deadlock by winning the shootout, 8-4. Brian Cox made three saves for Hereford.
Hereford faces the winner of tomorrow's semifinal between Brunswick and Poolesville for the regional title Wednesday.