N. Carroll trips Key in OT, 3-2 Trailing 2-1 at halftime, senior-led Panthers rally, run their record to 5-0

September 25, 1996|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The North Carroll Panthers have bookend leaders in striker Tony Reightler and goalkeeper Justin Malbrough.

Between the two is a group comprised mostly of underclassmen who just won't let up.

With four sophomores in the starting lineup, the obvious thought would be a rebuilding season, but that's not the thinking with the No. 12 Panthers, who improved to 5-0 on the season last night with a come-from-behind, 3-2 overtime win at Francis Scott Key.

Time and time again, North Carroll coach Denny Snyder talked about how his Panthers "have been there before." The "there" he is referring to is the close games in the second half, typically taken over by teams that have more overall experience than his does.

But it's been Reightler and Malbrough leading the way, with the rest of the Panthers feeding off the two.

The Eagles (0-3-1) took a 2-1 lead into the halftime break and maintained it through the first 30 minutes of the second half. But Reightler, who was shadowed capably by Key senior defender Jason Diehl throughout, scored off a rebound in front with 9: 13 left in regulation and Diehl on the sideline taking a quick breather.

North Carroll dominated the extra time and got the game-winner when Reightler scored his 11th goal of the season off a throw-in by sophomore Tim Wilfong with less than a minute to go in the first 10-minute overtime. Reightler positioned himself in deep on the left side, got past Diehl and found the top-right corner off a tough angle.

"Tim got the ball to my feet, and I somehow got through and went upper-90 with it," Reightler said.

"[Jason's] a tough player, very strong. It was me and him, one-on-one -- good, hard play."

Diehl, a first-team All-County player last season, was quick to agree.

"He's a good player, and I was just trying to keep it away from his feet," Diehl said. "We played some good team-defense and stayed together, which makes it sort of hard to take."

The Eagles, who hadn't played in 12 days, came out strong in the first half, continually beating the Panthers to the ball, and were rewarded with the one-goal lead on tallies from seniors Billy Kemp and Dave Johnson.

A goal from junior Eric Ford, his fifth of the season, was sandwiched between those goals to keep the Panthers close.

After pressing for a good part of the second half, the Panthers finally broke through and it was no surprise the source was Reightler.

"Down 2-1 -- we've been there before, and it was a matter of keeping our composure," Snyder said. "It was 100 percent, and that's what has us 5-0. The neat thing is the senior leadership with Justin and Tony and how the other players feed off of that. Tony's very explosive. Jason Diehl's a great kid, and he did a great job covering Tony."

No. 1 Centennial 3, No. 5 Bel Air 0: Matt Stephenson scored a hat trick, as the top-ranked Eagles (2-0) pounced on the visiting Bobcats. Stephenson, a first-team All-Metro pick a year ago when he scored 11 goals and had eight assists, now has five goals in just two games.

His effort enabled Centennial, which is ranked third in the nation, to stretch its winning streak to 34 games.

Pub Date: 9/25/96

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