Westminster chokes off Liberty

Owls' defense contains sophomore-laden Lions, 5-3, in county opener

April 07, 1999|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Host Westminster entered last night's Carroll County opener against Liberty with a simple plan to slow the Lions' high-octane attack: Shift the defense into overdrive.

Playing what coach Jim Peters called their best defense this season, the Owls held Liberty scoreless for the first 28: 42, and midfielder Jason Holman took care of the rest, scoring a game-high three goals to lead his team to a 5-3 win.

"We worked hard defensively," said Peters. "We knew what kind of offensive power Liberty has -- a lot of kids who can feed and score. So it was important for us to have the intensity and play good team defense."

The Owls (3-3 overall, 1-0 county) held the Lions to just four shots in the first half, using relentless coverage and a number of big checks to keep them out of scoring position. When Liberty did get off a shot, Owls goalie Greg Putnam was usually in the way, making eight saves for the game, several of the clutch variety.

"Our defense stepped it up real big," said Holman, a junior. "We knew they had a good attack and that we had to stop them, but we also knew we had to score. We wanted to start quick -- get on top and stay on top."

Holman made sure of that, scoring off a feed from Kyle Koslowski 1: 01 into the game to put the Owls ahead. Minutes later, Dave Robertson scored unassisted to increase the lead to 2-0 with 3: 27 left in the quarter.

That would be all the offense in the first half, as both defenses stepped to the forefront the rest of the way, delivering crushing hits and essentially keeping the other out of shooting range. Westminster outshot Liberty 9-4 in the half, but the Lions also missed at least three prime scoring opportunities because of dropped feeds in front of the goal.

The young Lions (3-2, 0-1), playing without starting midfielders Kris Gooding (ineligible, out for the season) and Sean Donahue (shoulder, due back Friday), started four sophomores but played up to seven at the same time. Coach Sal Picataggi said the inexperience showed at times.

"We had a lot of sophomore mistakes," said Picataggi. "We didn't finish well. We had opportunities in the first half from the crease and didn't put them away. Plus, their defense was very good."

Westminster, missing three of its top players until April 20 because of eligibility problems, extended its lead to 3-0 on Holman's solo effort 1: 27 into the second half.

Liberty got on the board on Mark Donohue's goal with 1: 18 left in the third quarter to make it 3-1.

That was as close as the Lions would get.

Holman and Ian Park each added goals in the final 11: 04 to counter those of Liberty's Steve Freedman and Donahue.

Donahue finished with two goals and an assist in a losing effort.

Pub Date: 4/07/99

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