Lions lose on penalty kicks, 5-3

boys soccer 2a final

Crossbar, deflections thwart best scoring opportunities

November 16, 2008|By Todd Karpovich | Todd Karpovich,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Sixth-ranked Liberty came within inches several times of taking the lead in last night's Class 2A state championship game against James M. Bennett, but two shots against the crossbar and a few deflections kept the game tied at UMBC.

After 100 scoreless minutes, Bennett took advantage of those miscues and won the penalty kick shootout, 5-3, to capture its first state championship. It was the last game for Liberty coach Ed DeVincent, who will focus entirely on being the school's athletic director, but he was more concerned about the fortitude of his players than his legacy on the sidelines.

"It was a great game," said DeVincent, who finished 156-46-13 in 13 years. "J.M. Bennett is a great team. We had a couple of good opportunities. We hit the post. The ball skidded across the goal. We just weren't able to get that finishing touch. ... It was a tough way to end the season."

The game was delayed for almost an hour because of a downpour. When play began, the Lions were the more aggressive team, creating several chances with dangerous crosses through the penalty area.

Bennett (18-0) then took control and had its best chance when Thomas Malone had a one-on-one with goalie Kevin Hollasch, who poked the shot wide in the 22nd minute. After a scoreless first half, the teams played more physically. Liberty finished with two yellow cards, and Bennett had three yellows and a red.

The Lions' defense shut down Bennett's top scorer, Kyle Yingling (28 goals), by shadowing him around the field and limiting his touches.

"Just shutting him down gave us more of an edge," Liberty defender Chad Fredritz said. "That took the biggest wind out of them."

The Lions (15-3-1) kept the ball in the Clippers' territory for most of the second half, and a header by Connor Rigby in the 32nd minute went just over the crossbar. Alex Khouri hit a ball that caromed off the bar in the 36th minute.

Liberty also controlled the overtime periods, but, once again, it could not finish any chance and the game went to penalty kicks. Each team converted its first three opportunities, but a miss by Liberty in the fourth round allowed Bennett to put the game away with a shot.

"I thought the game was incredible," J.M. Bennett coach Skip Ruark said. "They put a lot of pressure on our backs and midfielders. Our guys came up huge. I think it was a very even match between two good teams."

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