Severna Park wins boys soccer showdown
Sep 28, 2012 (Menafn - The Capital - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Some familiar names played pivotal roles in Severna Park's showdown with North County.
Kyle Albach scored for the third consecutive game, and Daniel Kwon tallied the winner 7 minutes, 13 seconds into the second half as the Falcons held off the Knights, 2-1, in a match between the last two unbeaten boys soccer teams in county play.
Tim Nelson led another solid defensive effort for Severna Park, which surrendered Heikki Katojisto's goal in the first half, but thwarted several other attempts.
"We were very excited and got a little too excited after our goal," Nelson said. "Their goal was like a slap in the face, woke us up and allowed us to play aggressive and play our game."
The game's first 20 minutes were sneaky quick. Although there were only a few quality chances for both sides, either team easily could have taken an early advantage.
Jake Miller sprung Gregg Hauck six minutes in, but the four-year varsity starter couldn't keep his shot down for the Knights. About 90 seconds later, North County goalkeeper Jake Hensley made a strong challenge on Kwon, forcing him wide with the ball and keeping the game even.
"They had a few more quality chances than us, but we could have put a second goal together," Knights coach Scott McGuire said. "I liked our attitude all day. We want to play calm assertive. We want to be aggressive on the ball, but we don't want to panic. We want to be relaxed."
Albach gave Severna Park the lead off a free kick. Austin Spence sent a ball in from just inside midfield. The ball eventually found Cole Strong's head, moving forward to Albach, who scored his sixth goal of the season.
"Coach has us in good condition," Albach said. "Not just running, but on the ball, too. That was a different North County team. We know their coach well, and he has done a great job with them."
The Falcons had their string of four games without a goal allowed snapped against Northeast earlier this week. The Knights moved quickly to ensure Severna Park didn't start a new one.
Katojisto, a transfer from Finland with an aggressive first step on the ball, answered Albach's tally just 26 seconds later. He went back and forth with Miller before finishing into the lower-right corner.
"I was thinking about getting a goal back right away," Katojisto said. "We played well and showed the skill we have as a team, but it wasn't enough."
Miller almost gave North County the lead with nine minutes left in the first half by taking a sly, little rip at the ball, but he sent it just wide.
"It was outstanding how we were able to respond to their goal so quickly," McGuire said. "That is like a coach's dream. We are scoring goals and spreading the wealth, and we are also defending pretty well."
Although North County's defense was stingy in terms of space allowed for the Falcons' forwards to create, Kwon was still able to take advantage of an opportunity early in the second half. He corralled the ball in the upper-left corner of the penalty box and sent a screaming line drive into the upper-right corner of the net.
That shot is becoming his signature.
"He works on them all the time," Albach said. "We play through-balls, 1-2s, and he just gets those amazing goals.
As a sophomore, with 11 goals already this season, Kwon plays with a youthful energy, but when he senses a scoring chance, his eyes open wide.
"Dan is just having fun, and you are going to play at your highest level when you are that relaxed," Severna Park coach Ryan Parisi said. "For all our guys up front, their key to finishing is making sure they are comfortable in and around the box. They do not get down on missed opportunities."
Although they failed in their quest to knock off the county favorite, the Knights proved their early-season run has been no fluke.
"Good teams overcome adversity," McGuire said. "How we respond to this will be important. Now we kind of now what we have to do against Severna Park. If they want to see them again, they know what they have to do."
North County (5-2) 1 0 -- 1
Severna Park (8-0) 1 1 -- 2
GOALS: NC -- Katojitso; SP -- Albach, Kwon. ASSISTS: NC -- Miller; SP -- Strong. SAVES: NC -- Hensley 3; SP -- Thomas 1. SHOTS: NC -- 8; SP -- 7. CORNERS: NC -- 4; SP -- 5.
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