- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
If you want to see a soccer team getting first touches, maintaining possession, sprint on and off the field and firing 21 shots on goal, look no further than the Northern boys soccer team.
After announcing the departing Great Mills seniors on a misty Tuesday evening, the soccer game got under way with Northern pressuring Hornets goalie Jose Escobar right away, firing off two quick shots on goal, giving Great Mills defenders Kelon Funyak and Robbie Croxson something to deal with. Croxson is still favoring his right knee after an early-season injury.
The visiting Patriots entered the game on a six-game winning streak after just one loss, that coming in double overtime in the season opener against Chopticon.
Northern (8-1, 7-1 SMAC) put three goals in the back of the net in the first half and held on for a 3-2 victory, giving it first place in the conference to this point.
They are tied with Leonardtown with identical 7-1 records, but the Patriots hold the tiebreaker after defeating the Raiders in overtime on Sept. 13.
Northern head coach John Rossi said that it was a great team victory.
“I think all of the guys played strong today,” Rossi said. “Defense stayed strong when they needed to and goalie [Zachary Dunn] played well and we got the finishes from the strikers that we needed.”
Rossi said the team is definitely applying what they’re learning in practice and displayed that perfectly in the first half.
“We got away from it a little bit and made it tougher on ourselves in the second half,” Rossi said, “but all in all, I think it was a nice win. It’s always tough to come down here and get one and their goalie made some good saves. On a couple, he covered a lot of net.”
Joseph Cirillo put the Patriots up 1-0 just 4 minutes 2 seconds into the game.
Escobar made an astonishing save 10 minutes into play allowing the Hornets to come back and answer, tying up the game with a goal from senior Will Ironmonger. Escobar finished with 18 saves.
Moments later out of nowhere came Northern’s Matthew Schwartz with a header to give his team a 2-1 lead. Later, Cirillo scored his second goal to give the visitors a 3-1 lead at halftime.
“The game meant a lot to get a win over a perennial SMAC powerhouse,” Schwartz said. “The defense played well. Daniel Zilevicius, Michael Gullion made some great plays for us. It was good to get this result. We just need to work on finishing and keeping composure in the midfield. That was key in the second half, we lost some composure but we’re going to have a good week of practice and get ready for North Point.”
The Patriots will host the Eagles at 6 tonight.
It’s been an ongoing battle for Great Mills senior Matt Eastburg to score with his left foot and he accomplished that feat 15 minutes into the second half, tightening the gap 3-2.
Northern’s Evan Norfolk covered the strong foot of Great Mills’ Billy Zeba, who was moved from midfield to striker in the last 10 minutes of play and tried with everything he had to cross the ball for his teammates but the Hornets ran out of time.
Great Mills head coach David Haun said he was happy with the way his team responded.
The seniors honored on Tuesday night were Croxson, Ironmonger, Eastburg, Jeremy Dehn, Tyler Gatton, Zach Spurling, Dylan Lowmiller and Austin Vale.
Ironmonger has been a four-year player at Great Mills and plans to major in engineering. Eastburg, also a four-year player, is looking into attending the U.S. Naval Academy. Another four-year player, Jeremy Dehn plans to major in engineering in college.
Gatton is a three-year player at Great Mills and plans to study mechanical engineering in college. Spurling is also a three-year player at Great Mills and plans to attend Indiana University to study education to become a social studies teacher.
Lowmiller is planning to study nursing at The College of Southern Maryland and Vale, a four-year player, plans to attend the U.S. Naval Academy.
Great Mills (6-3, 6-3) lost its third straight contest and will be Stone at 6 tonight.