Harford Tech big success in boys soccer

Team reaches first state final four with win vs. DuBois



The Harford Tech boys soccer team made school history last week. They're hoping to do it again this week.

Harford Tech made the state final four for the first time with a 1-0 victory over DuBois in the Class 1A North regional championship. Eric Vanblargan's second-half goal proved to be the difference and sent the Cobras to their first state final four.

The win earned Harford Tech a match-up against Rising Sun in the state semifinal, scheduled for yesterday at 3 p.m. But coach Andy Bleichfeld said, regardless of the outcome, it's big for the team's program.

"I think it's going to boost everything," he said. "The school as a whole looks to it, and we want to start getting those banners in the gym. The program is still growing."

Indeed, the Cobras have been growing in recent years. They lost to Parkside in last year's Class 2A East regional final but bounced back to go 10-5-1 this season when moving down to Class 1A.

"We had several key players returning this year, and we had to fill some holes," Bleichfeld said. "But the kids have really done well doing it."

Senior Sean Messenger and juniors Mike Pistorio and Stefan Stasak have played a large role in giving the Cobras an offensive spark. Messenger is the team leader with 28 points, thanks to 11 goals and six assists. Pistorio has seven goals and 13 assists for 27 points with Stasak (eight goals, three assists) adding 19.

Harford Tech also has taken advantage of strong play on defense. Juniors Chuck Osborne, Jason Whittie and Dan Wydra plus sophomore Kenny Wilson have been consistent all season, along with senior goalie Brian Ramsel in his first year as a starter.

Bleichfeld said he wasn't worried about how his team would react to its first state final four appearance - they were treating it as just another big game.

"If they get up for a big game, we can do it," he said. "When they really get pumped, they can do it."

Back again

Fallston has been one of the region's top field hockey teams over the past several years. The Cougars made the state final four for three consecutive years from 2001-2003, winning the championship once, losing in the finals once and falling in the semifinals another time.

But they faded last year, falling to 8-6 and losing early in the regional playoffs. Coach Alice Puckett thought good things were coming, saying at season's end that next year would be much better.

Puckett made a good prediction, as Fallston returned to the state final four with a 14-4 record. The Cougars are set to play Northern of Calvert in the Class 3A semifinal today at 2:45 at Howard High.

"We have more players this year that play year-round," Puckett said. "We're probably a little more athletic than we were last year, and some of the new kids that have come in have had an immediate impact on the varsity."

Puckett's daughter, freshman Lindsey Puckett, has been strong this season and just returned from a knee injury that sidelined her for a few games. Sophomore Caitlin Walker also has helped in different spots.

Katie Schroeder scored the game-winning goal in the 1-0 North regional championship win over host Towson last week. The senior has scored some clutch goals this season, and the Cougars also have gotten help from classmates Liz DiNunno and Ali Fogerty.

County rival C. Milton Wright also earned a spot in the state final four, scoring a 1-0 victory over Dulaney in the Class 4A North regional title game.

The Mustangs are scheduled to face Springbrook in the state semifinals tonight at South River at 7:15.

The state title games were originally scheduled for Saturday at College Park but have been moved to Monday and Tuesday night.

Bouncing back

The Aberdeen football team is in a rebuilding mode this year, and the Eagles are slowly taking the right steps.

Aberdeen's 12-0 win over Fallston last Friday gave it a 5-4 record and assured the Eagles of at least a .500 season. That's not bad considering they've lost 51 players the past two years.

The Eagles won the state championship two years ago and lost in the second round of last year's regional playoffs. But this year's team is going through the growing pains that will make them feel better next fall.

"We have only 13 seniors on the team this year," Aberdeen coach Joe Harbert said. "We've got a lot of guys coming back, and we've got some nice talent on the junior varsity that we think can help out."

Senior running back Jamal Green has carried much of the load this season, especially in recent weeks. He ran for 141 yards on 18 carries and scored both touchdowns in the Fallston game.

Harbert gave credit to the offensive line, which lost two key linemen early but rebounded to play strong football. Juniors Reid Edwards (center), Tyrell Demby (guard) and senior tackles Keith Harris and Bradley Woodward plus classmate Steve Ringgold at guard have been consistent.

The Eagles won't make the playoffs this year, but Harbert wants his players to spend plenty of time in the weight room in the offseason. "We need to get stronger as a team as a whole," Harbert said.

Stepping down

Puckett also confirmed last week that she's stepping away from her long-time job as a Fallston girls basketball coach.

She's spent a total of 17 years as coach or co-coach over a couple of periods, but Puckett wants to spend some more time helping coach her daughter's indoor field hockey team this winter.

Puckett has spent the past five years co-coaching the Cougars with Vernon Brown, and he'll take charge this season.

"It's going to be sad," Puckett said. "I'm going to miss working with Vernon and the girls. I had a great time, but the future looks good."

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