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Hubs beat Catoctin, win Antietam crown

October 31, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

HAGERSTOWN -- A traditional Irish blessing asks that the wind always be at your back.

The North Hagerstown boys soccer team? They would rather put up with the grit in their teeth.

The Hubs scored three second-half goals -- including two by Nelson Moreno -- while playing against a stiff wind to take out Catoctin 4-1 to win the MVAL Antietam title Saturday at Mike Callas Stadium.

The victory comes on the heels of North's 3-1 loss to Middletown in the first round of the Maryland Class 2A West tournament on Thursday. So, the conference victory was the second-best way to end the season.

"You're used to winning a title and then going on to the playoffs," said North coach Glen Singer. "But this ... It's an odd feeling. It's sort of surreal. (The MVAL title is) something we haven't won in a while."

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North happily took the consolation prize and the parting gifts for its efforts. In some ways, it wasn't a case of what the Hubs won as it was what they prevented.

"Winning this is a big deal," said Moreno, who scored what proved to be the winning goal in the 44th minute. "It makes us feel really good. If we wouldn't have won, the title would have went to Williamsport and we didn't want that to happen."

With the victory, North and Williamsport finished tied at 6-1 in the Antietam chase. But the Hubs were awarded the title by virtue of their 1-0 victory over the Wildcats on Oct. 1.

The task at hand became more of a chore because of the strong wind out of the south that blew high shots and passes backwards.

The Hubs managed a goal in the 26th minute with the wind advantage. Moreno lofted a corner kick in front of the goal mouth that Alex Henry got a head on and directed into the bottom right of the goal from 5 yards out.

Even with the 1-0 halftime lead, the Hubs went to basics to prepare for a tough second half with the wind in their faces.

"We talked about it at halftime, about picking up our energy level," Singer said. "When we had the wind in our face, we were pushing the ball too far in front. In the second half, we wanted to pass better. It is easier to pass the ball than it is to run around a defender."

It worked.

North spread the field and strung out Catoctin's defense, which left Cougars goalkeeper Benjamin Tylicki on an island.

Moreno got the first crack as he broke free down the middle of the field and got a centering pass from Frederick Owusu-Ayim for a 1-on-1 encounter with Tylicki from 15 yards out. North's striker shot over the top of the goalie for the score and the 2-0 lead.

"The team did a good job passing," Moreno said. "We spread the defense out and I got free of my mark. The ball got back to me and I was wide open. I got it and thought about (the shot) and got it in."

Catoctin got one of the goals back in the 45th minute as Alex Owens lofted a shot into the wind from midfield. Moreno tried to head it out, but the ball went backwards and bounced over the head of North goalkeeper Caleb Mittel and into the goal.

The Hubs quickly retaliated in the 49th minute when a centering pass deflected off Owusu-Ayim and trickled over to Tyler Sterling, who turned and fired the ball in from inside the goalie box for the 3-1 lead.

Moreno closed the scoring in the 71st minute in a dream situation. He broke free down the middle and received a pass from Andre DeSouza at the 10-yard mark for another straight-on win over Tylicki.

North peppered the goal, outshooting Catoctin, 27-3. Mittel had two saves for the Hubs to give North the biggest consolation of all.

"We will be the only other 2A team to finish the season with a win," Singer said.

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