No. 15 Bel Air sweeps past No. 4 Fallston Hentz, Bobcats' defense steps up in 1-0 victory

Girls soccer

October 06, 1998|By Lowell E. Sunderland | Lowell E. Sunderland,SUN STAFF

Longtime Bel Air coach Bill Zimmerman was worried going into this season about his defense, particularly sweeper, where graduation left him with big shoes to fill. And then Nikki Hentz stepped, well, back.

If Hentz, a forward last fall, plays the rest of the season as confidently at sweeper as she did last night in the No. 15-ranked Bobcats' 1-0 defeat of No. 4 Fallston, Zimmerman can turn his vocal chords on some other part of his team.

Hentz was especially huge in the game's closing minutes doing what sweepers everywhere are supposed to do: save absent marking backs from disaster.

In Hentz's case, that meant with her team ahead but Fallston pressing effectively, two crisply executed, sliding tackles that cleared two potentially dangerous balls from Fallston attackers left open on forays down the left side.

After which, Fallston's attack moved right.

"We knew what they were going to do -- cross the ball. We'd practiced it," said Hentz. "We really wanted this game. Everybody played their hearts out."

Zimmerman credited Hentz though, with offering to move to sweeper to help the team. "We've played pretty smart defensively," he said. "We have a 10th-grader, an 11th-grader, and Nikki, the senior, controls it."

Bel Air also got competent work from senior goalkeeper Lindsay Bugda and a big clear with about three minutes left by sophomore marking back Emily Neubeck. Inside the final minute, Bugda and a teammate snuffed a bobbling ball to their left of goal.

A textbook restart in the 47th minute produced the game's only goal. Defender Jen Chumbley's direct free kick from about 25 yards on the left dropped near the penalty spot, where, alone, midfielder Lorie Zimmerman one-timed it crisply under oncoming Cougars goalkeeper Candi Kuligowski.

Zimmerman's first goal of the season beat Kuligowski cleanly, but many of her 10 saves kept the game closer than the score might indicate. While Bel Air's Bugda was credited with 14 saves, Kuligowski had more challenging saves, including a dive in the ninth minute, a smothered shot in the 78th and at least

three catches on shots from inside the box's right side.

Plus the Bobcats hit the left post in the game's opening minute and, off a 78th-minute restart, the crossbar.

"We missed a mark on the goal, and that was it," said Fallston coach Nancy Ferguson, whose team is relatively inexperienced in front. "But they all played hard."

The best of her Cougars' several scoring chances came in the 70th minute.

Freshman Kerin Kinnear, just inside the center of the box, cracked a hard shot off a closing defender's leg, and the ball spun inches wide of the right post.

This game began as a battle of Harford County unbeatens, but in defeating higher-ranked, visiting Fallston for the first time in what Zimmerman said was "five or six years," Bel Air improved to 5-1-1 overall, 3-0-0 county. Fallston is now 5-1-2, 3-1-0.

Pub Date: 10/06/98

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