Perry Hall soccer makes most of 2nd chance, beats Blake 2-1

November 05, 2011|By Glenn Graham, The Baltimore Sun

SILVER SPRING -- The Perry Hall boys soccer team, which temporarily had its season end in the midst of controversy, found more reason to celebrate Saturday, making the most of its second chance by beating host James Hubert Blake 2-1 in the Class 4A North Region semifinals.

Senior midfielders Chris Winter and Chris White scored second-half goals to send the Gators (7-7-3) to the regional championship just two days after their principal initially ruled that they would have to forfeit the game.

After their celebratory dance following a 2-1 quarterfinal round win at Dulaney on Tuesday drew criticism from Dulaney supporters, Perry Hall principal George Roberts ruled Thursday to terminate the team’s season. The Gators’ found new life when Roberts overturned his ruling Friday after further investigating the incident, which had become national news.

Behind a large and vocal following that made the 1½-hour drive to Silver Spring and filled two-thirds of the visitors-side stands, the Gators, seeded tenth, took control of a scoreless game in the second half to beat the second-seeded Bengals.

Winter opened the scoring with a left-footed shot from the left corner that sailed over Blake goalie Jacob Gill and into the far corner with 16 minutes to play, then White added a goal with 3:24 left that proved to be the game-winner after Blake (10-4-2) got a goal from Chris Richard with four seconds left.

Shortly afterward, the Gators erupted with another celebration — minus The Bernie dance that started the controversy on Tuesday. They all came together in front of coach Paul Eibner, shared hugs and then made sure to collectively applaud their fans.

“It's been a very emotional week for us, and in the second half these guys just reached down and found something. I'm just so proud of the way they fought,” Eibner said. “There's two things we learned: The first is we win with class and lose with dignity. And the second thing is, off the field in life or on the field in soccer, you keep fighting, keep fighting because you never know how it’s going to pan out. I'm just so proud of these guys.”

White, a senior captain who dominated the middle of the field in the second half, said the team had no plans of letting the second chance go for naught. The Gators, who have advanced to the state tournament seven times, will face Westminster on Tuesday for the regional crown.

“We put a lot of work into it,” said White, who noted that the team agreed before Saturday’s game not to celebrate with The Bernie dance. “We thought our season was over. And then once we got it back, we knew we had to come out here and win — there was no way we were going to lose today. Everybody put in 110 percent on the field.”

Off the field, Perry Hall fans were glad their team’s season was able to continue Saturday. Roberts had initially decided to forfeit the semifinal after receiving a number of emails from Dulaney fans who felt the Gators showed poor sportsmanship in celebrating their victory in a distasteful manner in front of the home team’s cheering section.

Perry Hall supporters strongly disagreed that their players were trying to disrespect Dulaney with their reaction to the victory.

Matt Allman, whose son, Rob, is a starting junior midfielder for Perry Hall, was at Tuesday’s game and said the celebration only ended up near the Dulaney contingent because that’s where the ball ended up going out of bounds when the final whistle blew.

“The punishment never fit the crime,” he said. “It was not that big of a deal and it got so blown out of proportion. It should have never gotten anywhere near to this point.”

Prior to Saturday’s game, Eibner was concerned his players were emotionally exhausted after the week’s turmoil, saying they would need to rise above to defeat a highly skilled Blake team.

They did just that. Sophomore goalie Austin Kroll kept the game scoreless by making five of his seven saves in the first half, and then the Gators dominated the second half with a cohesive effort.


Class 4A North region semifinal

Perry Hall 2, Blake 1

Goals: PH – Winter, White’ B – C Richard.

Assists: PH – Allman, Liberto.

Saves: PH – Kroll 7; B – Gill 3,

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