McDonogh takes down Wright, 2-0

Berens, Beckman score as No. 4 Eagles pass test

Boys soccer

September 16, 2001|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The McDonogh Eagles proved it could stand its ground against bigger, physically stronger C. Milton Wright yesterday afternoon, fortunate to get a lead in the first half and then creatively adding to it in the second to earn a 2-0 win.

Senior A.J. Berens scored the first-half goal that proved to be the game-winner and until Matt Beckman - one of five freshman starters for the No. 4 Eagles - scored his team-high seventh goal of the season in the 65th minute, the outcome wasn't secure.

It was just the test McDonogh coach Stevie Nichols was looking for as his young Eagles (5-2-1) continue to grow.

"C. Milton Wright is a tough Harford County team, they play hard, their system of play is very direct and they do a great job of that," Nichols said. "What I'm proud about with our kids is we didn't get physically pushed around as much and we kind of gave it back to them when we had to. We're going to have to play Calvert Hall and Loyola and, physically, they're very similar to this team. We need to learn to play like this when we need to and it's coming along."

The Mustangs (3-2) dictated the pace for most of the first half and were able to find some space between the McDonogh defense, but couldn't break through.

The Eagles eventually did at the other end on a broken play, with Berens sure on his finish from 14 yards out.

The deficit didn't deter the Mustangs, who saw their best chance to draw even - a header from Brian Tully off a cross from Jeff Kocher - bang off the crossbar.

"The first goal was unfortunate, but then the guys - and they've always been like this - responded really well when we gave up the goal and came back hard," Wright coach Brian Gunter said. "We know they're a real strong team and we came in here and played with them, so we're happy about that. It wasn't the result we wanted, but we know we can play with teams of this level and we can build on that."

The Eagles finally got the well-structured play finished off by Beckman to put the game away late.

"It felt good to have the 1-0 lead just in case they scored and then I scored the second one and it gave us more confidence," Beckman said. "Zac's [Johns] cross went over my head, then I looked around and [Drew Singleton] headed it back to me and I hit it in."

It's something Nichols hopes to see more and more of as his Eagles continue to settle in.

"We have a lot of talent and if they come to play - as young as we are - we can still play with anyone talent-wise. But our problem is, because we are so young, if we don't come to play, we can get beat by anyone as well," he said. "It's coming around and it's going to take time, but I think we've always been here -we've been in three straight [MIAA A Conference] championship games and we expect to be there at the end again if we continue to get better and better."

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