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Hubs done in playoffs, have one game left

October 29, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

HAGERSTOWN -- North Hagerstown's boys soccer team lived one life -- for one game -- in the Maryland Class 2A West playoffs. However, the Hubs can still live another life on Saturday in a scheduling oddity.

Middletown handled North at both ends of the field and came away with a first-round 3-1 victory on Thursday night at Mike Callas Stadium.

That ended any postseason aspirations for the Hubs (10-5), but they can still finish the season on a positive note.

On Saturday, North will host Catoctin. A victory would tie the Hubs with Williamsport atop the MVAL Antietam with a 6-1 league record, and by virtue of a 1-0 win over the Wildcats earlier in the year, the first tiebreaker would give the title to North.

"I told the players they still have a chance to end their season with a victory and there is only one other team that will do that," said Hubs coach Glen Singer, speaking of the eventual Class 2A state champion.

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From the outset Thursday, Middletown was more aggressive and the Knights (10-3-2) struck like a fast-moving freight train in the 10th minute, part of their approach that led to a 20-9 advantage in shots.

Moving to the left of North keeper Caleb Mittel, the Knights' Daniel de la Riva dribbled forward and deftly passed to Luke Welch, who converted his first shot of the game from 10 yards.

"At this time of year, everyone should be a better team," said Singer, going back to a 1-0 loss earlier in the season to Middletown. "They were far more aggressive."

Unable to get anything clicking offensively, the Hubs got a break in the 23rd minute after Max Psillas' free kick was knocked away by Middletown keeper Matt Kuhn.

The ball bounced toward North's Frederick Owusu-Ayim, whose shot from 15 yards out also was knocked away by Kuhn, but it went straight to Nelson Moreno and the senior striker knotted the game with a bolt into the right side of the net.

Undeterred, Middletown kept the pressure on North's defense. Ryan Hohl rocketed a shot at Mittel, who made the save. But Hohl aggressively attacked the rebound and sent it into the net for a 2-1 lead in the 34th minute.

"They were skilled and got a lot of time on the ball," said Singer.

Neither team mounted a threat for the first 10 minutes of the second half. North's best chance to tie the game came in the 64th minute with three players surrounding Kuhn in the box, but the Hubs came up empty on two shots.

Middletown put an exclamation point on the scoreboard in the 68th minute. Matt Donald sent a direct kick across and through the box that was headed by de la Riva past Mittel into the net.

"We knew coming in we had to play our best 80 minutes of the season," said Singer. "We weren't organized tonight. But now we have to take advantage of Saturday's game."

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