T. Johnson holds off Fallston for state title Cougars can't overcome Meyers, defense, 2-1

Class 3A-4A girls soccer

November 16, 1997|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

Last week, Thomas Johnson capitalized on one Severna Park defensive breakdown to win their state semifinal game, 1-0. The Patriots doubled their pleasure yesterday, converting two Fallston defensive lapses into goals and a 2-1 victory in their Class 3A-4A championship match at Dundalk Community College.

As had been the case on occasion during the season, Fallston (14-4), the defending state 3A-4A champion, waited until the second half to dominate play. Despite playing much of the half in their offensive end (six corners), the Cougars, down 2-1, failed to get off any really good shots against a defense that was packed inside.

The best chance came from two seniors with 4: 20 left when Kristen Gayo crossed the ball to the far post, but Christy Peterson was a step shy of making the connection.

Prior to that, Gayo, a tough player who plays much bigger than her 5-foot-2 stature, was a superb defender, time and again thwarting runs by the faster Patriots.

"Both their goals came on defensive breakdowns, as the shooters were unmarked," Fallston coach Nancy Ferguson said. "After the first goal, I thought we did a good job of coming back. At halftime, I told them not to leave anything out there and they didn't. They played their hearts out."

Until dropping back to a defensive mode for the last 20 minutes, Thomas Johnson (18-1-1), in the state tournament for the first xTC time, generated most of its defense out of the middle.

The tactic thwarted Fallston for all but a brief flurry in the first half when Jessica Hammer knocked home a rebound to tie the score at 1.

The goal came with 15: 30 left in the half, and 10 minutes later the Patriots untied it when Samantha Meyers, a member of the Under-17 national team, sent a perfect pass through to Tanya Dudrow, who buried a shot in the far top corner.

"We had talked about seizing a psychological moment, and this certainly was one," said Thomas Johnson coach Chuck Nichols. "That goal was huge. To come back like that after they had tied the score -- you just hope you can make it stand up.

"In the second half, they upped the pressure and we responded by getting more behind the ball. Our philosophy all year has been to defend the other team's defensive third and the middle third [of the field], and it worked for the first 60 minutes."

Meyers, a gifted player, was the catalyst for both of her team's goals. She scored the first, her 22nd of the season, from the top of the box on a line drive into the open right side of the net, and orchestrated the second when she got the ball to an open spot and Dudrow was there to finish it.

"The seniors were focused," said Nichols. "You saw what Meyers does on the field, but the thing about her is the intangibles. She is a natural leader."

Pub Date: 11/16/97

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