Severna Park conceded a late first-half goal against No. 4 Arundel in Friday night's Class 4A East regional semifinal and was faced with the daunting task of solving one of the most formidable defenses in the metro area.
Nonetheless, the No. 15 Falcons continued to push forward, and Billy Zito knocked in a loose ball after a corner kick with four minutes remaining to send the game into overtime. It was only the fourth goal allowed by Arundel all season.
Michael Utz then scored an almost identical goal with 9:11 remaining in the second overtime to give Severna Park a thrilling 2-1 victory. The Falcons play another league rival, No. 10 Broadneck, in the regional final. The Bruins beat Great Mills, 2-0, on Friday.
"It's my biggest goal ever, ever. …I don't even know how to describe the feeling right now," Utz said. "At halftime, coach [Roy Dunshee] told us to get our stuff together. It was gut-check time. Broadneck, here we come."
The Falcons (13-2-2) were the only county team Arundel didn't beat during the regular season; the teams played to a 0-0 tie. This time, Arundel (12-2-3) was without its leading scorer, Mike Kovach, who could not play after receiving a red card in a 2-0 victory over Old Mill in the regional quarterfinal.
Severna Park had trouble finding holes in Arundel's defense, which keeps four and sometimes five players deep in its own area when the opposition is on the attack. Tommy Hibbs gave the Wildcats the lead with a half-volley from about 20 yards in the 38th minute.
Much of the second half was played in the midfield. Severna Park's Alexander Moore nearly tied the score in the 54th minute, but Arundel goalie Ryan Bagley made an instinctive save with his right foot. When it appeared the Falcons were running out of time, Zito poked the ball through a crowd of defenders off a touch by Erik Schuh after a long corner kick by Jared Fenton. Utz's winner followed the same formula.
"I thought Arundel was phenomenal tonight," Dunshee said. "It was gritty determination that kept us in the game in the second half. It's a credit to the seniors on this team."
Goals: S—Zito, Utz; A—Hibbs. Assists: S—Schuh 2. Saves: S—Jones 7; A—Bagley 6. Half: A, 1-0.