To get to last night's Class 4A-3A state semifinal at Severna Park High School, the Westminster Owls -- a sub-.500 team for much of this season -- had to win five of six games, silencing critics while playing some of their best soccer of the year.
Against powerful Fallston, however, their best wasn't nearly good enough.
Though the Cougars won by only a 2-0 score, they dominated every facet of the game, outshooting their overmatched opponents, 20-3, in advancing to their second state final in the past three years.
Fallston (13-2-1) will play Arundel at 2: 30 p.m. Saturday at Dundalk Community College. Arundel beat Bowie, 1-0, last night.
"We just couldn't keep up with them," said Westminster coach Bill Cooper. "They just beat us to every ball tonight, on the ground and in the air. We spent way too much time in our defense, and we couldn't get the ball to our front line. Their speed and their quickness to the ball took us right out of our game."
Yet until the final minutes, the Owls (8-8) were only one good scoring opportunity away from a tie.
All game long, the Cougars used a tenacious, pressing defense to create turnovers near midfield. But once they got the ball on the offensive end, as has been the case for most of the season, they had difficulty finishing.
"It was a situation where we controlled the game, but we've been beaten before when we've just let up one opportunity and they capitalize on it," said Fallston coach Nancy Ferguson. "In the second half, we pushed it up and had a couple key opportunities, but no one was there."
After taking a 1-0 lead 12: 55 into the game on Karen Tiedemann's goal following a scramble in front of the net, the Cougars went the next 61: 14 scoreless.
"It was very nerve-wracking," said Tiedemann, "Our defense had to step up."
And step up it did. The Cougars' smothering defense held Westminster without a shot until Kimberly Frame fired one off with nine seconds left in the first half.
When Fallston's Kelly Caine scored off a pass from Jamie Neumann with 5: 51 to play, the game was essentially over.
Pub Date: 11/10/96