Towson ties No. 1 River Hill, shares state championship, 1-1

Defending champ Hawks earn 5th crown in 8 years

Class 3A boys soccer final

High Schools

November 16, 2003|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

River Hill and Towson tied, 1-1, after 100 minutes of scintillating soccer last night at UMBC and each earned a share of the Class 3A boys state championship.

The double-overtime game produced the fifth state title in eight years and second straight 3A title for No. 1 River Hill (16-1-1). For No. 5 Towson, it was the fourth state title and first since 1991.

In the fast-paced first half, Towson (16-1-2) struck first on an own goal in the 27th minute when Tyler Zentz made a run at the River Hill goal and a Hawks defender attempted a pass back to his goalie. On the fast turf, however, the ball rolled quickly past the goalie and into the net.

"A goal is a goal," said River Hill coach Bill Stara. "Those things happen. I would have taken an own goal."

River Hill, which had 13 shutouts this season, tied it in the 28th minute on a goal by Theo Byrd, who struck it with the inside of his right foot at the left post after a corner kick at the right sideline from left-footed Fumi Takahashi. It was Byrd's fifth goal of the tournament.

"It was a low ball that went all the way across the front of the goal," said Byrd. "Everybody on both teams missed it and I just cleaned it up."

Towson, which had 10 shutouts this season, came closest to scoring again when Jenner Alpern ripped a ball off the crossbar with 26:46 left to play.

"We had chances. They had a couple off the posts, so I don't know quite how to feel," said Stara. "On the positive side, we're state champs and we're young with a bright future."

River Hill had a good opportunity with 8:25 to play off a corner kick when Byrd soared high but couldn't quite get to the ball.

The Hawks, Howard County co-champions with Oakland Mills, had another chance with a minute left. Byrd broke down the middle with defenders on each side of him and, despite a hold, got off a shot that goalkeeper Mark Schminke saved.

"Someone grabbed my shirt, but it's a state championship game and you don't get that call," said Byrd. "They were a lot better than what people say about them. They were extremely good."

Said Towson coach Randy Dase: "A lot of people outside our community didn't think we could compete, but we demonstrated we could and will take a state title with a program like River Hill. I'm ecstatic with our season. The kids came into the game feeling very confident, so they are feeling a little disappointed with a tie. But it was an outstanding game. It's nice to be state champs."

Goals: T-Zentz; RH-Byrd. Assist: RH Takahashi. Saves: T-Schminke 3; RH-Moss 3. Half: 1-1.

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