An 0-2 start is not what Joppatowne boys soccer coach Mike Zipay had in mind when he opted to have his youthful Mariners play in an offensive-minded style this season.
So he decided to change direction and make defense a focal point of his team.
"I moved the better players back to defense," Zipay said. "And we were a better team."
Becoming a better team translated into a 4-4-2 record after the 0-2 start.
The leading scorer for the Mariners was senior forward Matt Crawford, who had nine goals and five assists after making first-team All-Harford County last season.
Zipay labeled junior midfielder Adam Ivusich as his top set-up man, bringing the ball down field and distributing it to teammates for six assists and scoring four goals.
Another junior midfielder praised by Zipay was Chris Williams.
"I could put him anywhere on the field except in the goal and he'd do fine," the coach said.
Also solidifying the team was senior sweeper Nick Reese, who became a featured player once the team went to a defensive look. That look was helped out by junior goalkeeper Steve Jagodzinski, who was transformed from an All-Harford County forward as a sophomore into a goalie a quarter of the way through the season.
That move was necessitated when the Mariners lost their starting goalkeeper with a dislocated shoulder.
In the running
Some Harford County teams fared well in last week's regional cross country meets.
The Bel Air boys and girls both took second place in the Class 3A East regional meet. The Bobcats put three boys in the top 10 while the girls had two.
For the boys, Brandon Ropiski (third), Elliot Mattson (fifth) and Alex Lohrmann (sixth) ran well for Bel Air. North Harford's Cory Pfarr (10th) was the other local runner in the top 10.
Bel Air's Sarah Zader took eighth while teammate Erin Geppi finished ninth in the girls race.
The C. Milton Wright girls were upset by host Dulaney in the Class 4A North regional meet. Dulaney ran probably its best race of the season to finish with 21 points, beating out the Mustangs, who took second with 43.
"Dulaney was just great," C. Milton Wright coach Donnie Mickey said. "They were just awesome."
Sara Bailey (second) and Lindsay Smith (fifth) led the way for C. Milton Wright. The Mustang boys also fared well, taking third overall, behind Dulaney and Sherwood.
Matt Provonche (sixth) and Pete Houlihan (ninth) led the way for C. Milton Wright on the cold afternoon.
A little short
Local soccer teams just missed making the state final four last week.
The defending state champion C. Milton Wright girls again made the regional finals, but saw visiting Perry Hall score a 3-0 victory. The Mustangs had their chances with nine shots on goal, but Perry Hall used two second-half goals to pull away.
The Fallston boys suffered a more frustrating loss. The senior-laden Cougars fell to Mount Hebron, 2-1, in double overtime in the Class 3A East regional final.
Fallston constantly pressured the Vikings, getting 18 shots on goal, but goalie Brad Carper made 17 stops. Tim Gill's second-half goal forced overtime for Fallston, but the Vikings broke through in double overtime.