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Gaels buck buddy system to slip past North

September 29, 1998|By RON SOMERS / Sports Editor

St. Maria Goretti and North Hagerstown High are neighbors on the north side of town. And like good neighbors, many of the members of both schools' boys soccer teams are buddies, which made Monday afternoon's match all the more important for both sides.

"We had to take 'em. I've got a lot of friends at North,'' said A.J. McGarity, who scored what proved to be the deciding goal in Goretti's 2-1 victory.

"This is a game for pride,'' said North coach Mike Gouker. "A lot of these kids play on the same club teams together.''

But neighborliness and friendship were set aside for an hour and 20 minutes as Goretti (5-2-2 and ranked No. 6) tried to hand North (5-1 and ranked No. 4) its first loss of the season. North resisted but ultimately fell.

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Both teams had their chances in the first half, but neither could seize the momentum with the first goal.

But in the seventh minute of the second half, the Gaels broke through. Tony Cosentino crossed the ball to Adrian Snell, who headed it past goalkeeper Jonathan Hemm.

North needed only about two minutes to get the equalizer. John Muto scored on a short free kick after taking a tap from Michael Hudak, and the battle of friends and neighbors was back to Ground Zero again.

But not for long.

The Gaels used their heads, literally and figuratively, to get the winner.

"I asked Coach (Marty Wills) to put me up front,'' said McGarity, who's listed as a defender.

And up front was where McGarity was when Ben Hood sent a high cross from near the right touchline to just off the left post. McGarity headed it in for a 2-1 lead.

"We caught them shifting,'' Wills said. "And the goalie shifted with them.''

McGarity said he saw the keeper out of position and took advantage of it.

Like a good neighbor, Wills paid his respects to North.

"North is well-coached and always tough,'' he said.

But his Gaels prevailed, he said, because "we pressured the ball most of the game and controlled 80 percent of the game.''

Gouker paid his neighborly respects as well.

"This game worried me more than anybody we've played so far,'' he said.

His Hubs lost, he said, because of an "overall lack of execution on our part, not to take anything away from Goretti. We did not finish well.

"I knew it would be a one-goal game.''

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