Asked to describe his youthful Falcons squad after last night's 10-8 Class 3A-4A state semifinal victory over Dulaney at UMBC Stadium, Severna Park coach Mike Bellotte used the term "battle-tested."
The "competitive edge," said Bellotte, stemmed from the Falcons' schedule, which included nine games against teams ranked in The Sun's top 15 at some point this season and a recent practice on Loyola College's artificial turf field to replicate the stadium atmosphere.
Bellotte's preparation resulted in the sixth straight win for the Falcons (12-6), despite having only three senior starters and being in their first Class 3A-4A final since the tournament became a state championship in 1990.
And it came against a Dulaney team which returned every defensive player from last season's state runner-up squad, including both goalies, Ohio State-bound second-team All-Metro defender Josh Tracy and North Carolina-bound attackman Steve Will.
Senior Hans Hergenroeder and junior Matt Chase each scored three times and had one assist, and juniors Starke Mueller and Paul Gillette each scored two goals to go with an assist as Severna Park advanced to next Tuesday's 8 p.m. game against Fallston, a 9-6 winner over Westminster in the other semifinal.
The Falcons never trailed in a game that was tied three times, but instead broke all three deadlocks with two-goal runs.
Up by a goal midway through the third period, Mueller began the decisive 3-0 run, converting a ground-ball pickup in front of the goal that led to a 9-5 lead with 8: 56 to play.
Senior keeper Steve Smith made six of his 14 saves during the fourth period when the Falcons were penalized five times and down two men for a short time.
Bellotte credited junior defensemen Ryan McGarry and Dave Wagner for limiting the Will brothers, Steve and Bryant, to a combined three goals and three assists.
"The pressure was just like against other tough teams. We stepped up like always," Mueller said. "We respected them as a team, knew they were good. But we also knew they were beatable just like everybody else."
Down 10-6 late in the fourth period, Dulaney came within 10-8 with 1: 04 to play. But Mueller won the ensuing faceoff and ran the clock down to 35 seconds. Smith made a save with 16 seconds left, as the Falcons regained possession and milked the remaining time.
"I'm proud of our guys. We tried everything possible to win," Steve Will said. "But we lost to a good team."
Dulaney got a scare when goalie Nick Mowbray (14 saves) crashed to the turf after a collision. He lay motionless for about three minutes before being escorted off the field but returned to make three saves in the fourth period.
Pub Date: 5/23/99