River Hill scores early, defends well for 1st county title Hawks top Hammond, 2-0, neutralize Bears' Pflugrad

October 23, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

No. 3-ranked River Hill dominated the midfield, took advantage of mental lapses by host Hammond, and won its first Howard County boys soccer championship yesterday.

The second-year Hawks' 2-0 win over No. 12-ranked Hammond was their seventh shutout and lifted their record under coach Bill Stara to 11-1 overall and 8-1 in the county. Stara's Centennial teams won seven state titles before he moved to River Hill last fall.

Stara moved his sweeper, Sam Salganik, into a fifth midfield, or inverted stopper, position to generate more offense and help control Hammond's most dominant player, midfielder Ryan Pflugrad.

The Hawks' Todd Tedrow, who normally plays sweeper, marked Pflugrad, and Hammond's senior leader became nearly a non-factor.

"When they play that fifth midfielder, it locks you in," Pflugrad said. "You can't turn out. It's really effective. Their defenders were real steady and kicked long ball if they got in trouble."

Said Tedrow: "I just tried to keep him [Pflugrad] from the ball. When he got it, I stepped in and hit him. He's a great player."

River Hill scored both goals in the first half.

Salganik scored the first one with a flick of his head to the far post off a long throw-in by Scott Buescher. It was Salganik's sixth goal, all off set plays, and Buescher's first assist.

Adom Crew scored the second goal off a play created by Buescher after Hammond failed to clear. Buescher fought through the attempted clear, dribbled about 20 yards and after his shot caromed off the goalkeeper, Crew kicked it in for his seventh goal this season.

"We just didn't have it today," said Pflugrad, whose Bears (9-4-1, 5-4) upset No. 4-ranked Wilde Lake Monday. "River Hill's speed and tackling made the difference."

Hammond coach Rich Corkran said: "We made a couple of mental lapses, which you can't do against a good team. We've played against three potential state champions, so we're OK. It's a new season now."

Hammond (9-4-1, 5-4) has hopes of winning the Class 1A state championship and has drawn two byes in the opening rounds. The Bears also drew a weak bracket with Brunswick and Catoctin, while three strong teams, Oakland Mills, Poolesville and Glenelg, are all in the other bracket.

"We did have a favorable draw," said Corkran, whose team won't play again for nine days.

River Hill players seemed pleased to have won a county title and to have stopped Centennial's string of six straight titles but were more concerned about winning a state title.

"People remember who wins the state titles but not the county titles, so we're looking forward to states," Salganik said.

River Hill, state Class 1A runner-up last season, opens the playoffs by hosting Surrattsville at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Pub Date: 10/23/97

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