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Majority doesn't rule in final decision for 'Cats

November 16, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

CATONSVILLE, Md. - Ten minutes of offense was all the Pocomoke boys soccer team needed to erase Williamsport's 70.

Pocomoke scored late in the first half on its fourth and final shot of the game, and the Warriors held off the Wildcats' furious second-half charge to win 1-0 for their second Maryland Class 1A state title in the last three years and fourth overall at University of Maryland-Baltimore County on Saturday.

"They put it away when they got their shot," said Ben Jordan, the Wildcats' first-team all-state senior forward and offensive leader. "They outplayed us for 10 minutes and scored one. The other 70, we outplayed them, especially in the second half."

Williamsport (16-3) - which came out firing, getting off five shots on goal before Pocomoke (16-3) had one - also controlled nearly the entire second half with 6-0 advantages in shots and corners after the break.

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"That's a real good team we just beat," Warriors coach Alan Byrd said. "They were all over us."

With the game still scoreless, Pocomoke appeared to get what might end up being its only break, as the Wildcats were penalized for tripping in their box in the 29th minute. But John Brittingham's penalty-kick attempt sailed wide right, and Williamsport went back to work.

Ten minutes later, with 1:22 left in the first half, Brittingham atoned for his misfiring. The senior midfielder crossed to freshman midfielder B.J. Godwin, who connected in front of the net for the game's only goal.

"At the end of the first half, we had a 10-minute spurt where we did not play well," Williamsport coach Stan Stouffer said. "We just weren't playing with a lot of energy and weren't clearing the ball and connecting passes, and we gave them that goal."

"That's all we needed," said Byrd, who switched his team to a prevent mode once it had the lead. "We had the 1-0 lead and I knew they'd be coming at us. We weren't building real well - we just had trouble getting in on them - so we played with a stack."

Warriors sophomore keeper Brad Baylis recorded seven of his 10 saves in the second half to help make that work.

"We had corners, throws and a couple of free kicks at the top of the 18 that were pretty dangerous," Jordan said. "We usually connect on at least one of them."

But Williamsport just couldn't come up with the same sort of late magic it used against Beall, when the Wildcats tied the game 1-1 in the closing minutes before winning the West region title on PKs.

"If there's anything we could have hoped for it was a Beall finish," Stouffer said. "There's no doubt in my mind that we outplayed them. We certainly had the ball down in their half of the field a good portion of the time.

"But just that one time they connected, and we didn't."

Williamsport, which was playing for its third state title and first since 1996, earned its fourth runner-up honor. The Wildcats lost three straight finals from 1998-2000.

"We would have liked to have ended it with first place, so it still feels like an incomplete season," Jordan said. "But it was a good season to get back down here. We won the league, we won a bunch of stuff and we got second in the state. But it's still incomplete. It's a bittersweet thing."

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