J. Murphy kicks off Severna Park victory

His goal is game-winner over Mount Hebron in East Regional final, 2-0

Class 2A boys soccer

High School

November 07, 2001|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

With all the shots it was getting, it seemed like a matter of time before Severna Park would score.

Finally, with nearly 19 minutes left in the game, senior catalyst J.P. Murphy broke the ice. About three minutes later senior midfielder Josh Bennett added an insurance goal as No. 13 Severna Park won the Class 3A East Regional boys soccer final, 2-0, over visiting Mount Hebron.

Severna Park outshot the visitors 21-5, but had trouble finishing. That was coupled with two superb saves by the Vikings sophomore keeper Chris Nemeh in the first half. Vikings defenders Billy Cooke, Joe Damiano, Jimmy Elliott and Joey Mansolillo also forced the Falcons to alter what should have been easy shots in a game played evenly in the air and on the ground.

In defeating their third Howard County opponent in the regional, including then-No. 1 River Hill, the Falcons (11-5-1) advanced to the 3A state semifinals. Severna Park will play Paint Branch, a 1-0 winner over Urbana for the West title, on Friday or Saturday.

"This team [Severna Park] is every bit as good as River Hill, maybe even better if that's possible," said Hebron's first-year coach, Mike Linsenmeyer.

Last night's game matched newcomers to Class 3A. Mount Hebron (11-5-1) won the past two 2A state titles before moving up to 3A this season while Severna Park moved down a class to 3A.

The Falcons had been a perennial larger-enrollment school in the AA classification, which in 1988 became Class 4A. This is the Falcons' first year in 3A after winning 12 region titles, the last in 1999.

It is the 13th region title under 28-year coach Don Gregg, who has taken his Falcons to eight state finals, where they have gone 0-7-1. Their last appearance was in 1996, a 2-1 loss to Montgomery's Walt Whitman. Severna Park was a co-champion with Bowie in 1983.

"I want to give the man a state title before I leave," said Murphy, the Falcons' hero throughout the regional.

Murphy, who never seems to stop running on the soccer field, was all over the place, creating, defending and winning balls.

After a couple of near misses in the first half in which the Falcons outshot the Vikings 10-4, Murphy took a cross from Jesse Weissburg and scored from left to right off a nifty stutter step.

"He's [Murphy] intense; sometimes you have to remind him to be more in control in the center, but if everybody else does their job, he can go anywhere he wants," Gregg said.

"In the second half, he was more in the middle and that's where we want him to play, so he doesn't have to play so hard."

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