Maryland leaves nationals with 3 second-place finishes S.C. Baltimore Stars fall in U-18 final, 3-1

July 28, 1998|By Gary Davidson | Gary Davidson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PHOENIX -- Maryland teams turned in one of the most impressive performances of the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships the past week, but no one went home happy.

Second-place finishes in the three top boys age groups left a bitter taste among the state's delegation.

The third loss in a title match came late Sunday night, when the AFC Lightning Gold of Atlanta was dominant from the outset in a 3-1 decision over the S.C. Baltimore Stars in the boys Under-18 final at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex.

"We just didn't come out ready to play for some reason," said Stars stopper Billy Nelson, who plays at UMBC. "It just didn't seem like we came ready to play our game, and they came out fired up. We couldn't handle the pressure. We tried to organize in the second half, and it just wasn't working at all."

AFC was consistently on the attack but could not break through until the 38th minute, when Jimmy Harden touched a ball to Stephen Williamson, who launched a bullet to the upper right corner.

Benjamin Landis' penalty kick made it 2-0 in the 48th minute and Matt Doggendorf stole a ball in the 74th, increasing the advantage to 3-0.

Timothy Gober fought off three defenders to score in the 90th minute -- Baltimore's only really dangerous scoring opportunity -- to make the score at 3-1.

"We definitely could have played much better," Nelson said. "It was just a team breakdown, basically. They were an excellent team, knocking it around real well. They controlled it."

Cheering in the stands was UMBC assistant coach Anthony Adams, forced to resign as Stars coach after joining the UMBC staff last year. If Adams had stayed, Retrievers players Nelson and Brandon Thompson would have been declared ineligible.

Sonny Askew took over six weeks ago. "It was either me or them," said Adams, who played on the Baltimore Spirit 1994 McGuire Cup boys U-19 national champion. "They've done so much for the team, it wasn't even a question."

In Sunday morning's U-20 final, the Colorado Rush Warriors of Littleton was a 5-1 winner over Columbia Darby, the six-time Maryland Cup champ which could not compensate for the loss of standout central defender Michael Green, suspended because of a red card he received for a tackle in the semifinals.

Saturday night, a vocal standing-room-only crowd of more than 4,000 cheered as the hometown Cisco '79 Flames edged the Baltimore F.C. Bullets, 2-1, in the 61st McGuire Cup final.

Only California, which has two state associations and won two championships, two second places, a third and a fourth; and Colorado, with two titles and a fourth place, could claim a better national tournament than Maryland.

Pub Date: 7/28/98

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