North Carroll High ended a rags-to-riches season with the school’s first boys soccer championship Thursday at UMBC, defeating Pikesville, 1-0, in the Class 1A final on a goal by junior striker JT Weitzel.
Last year, North Carroll went 6-10. This year's team finished 13-4-1, and holding a state trophy.
“It’s an amazing feeling, and pretty crazy to go out like this,” said North Carroll second-year coach Andrew Harrell, whose team has 12 seniors. “I haven’t wrapped my head around it yet. When it sinks in, it will be very rewarding. It’s the hardest-working team I’ve had, and we have great leadership.”
North Carroll defenders, seniors Josh Resh, Paul Klapp and Luke Gonzalez and junior Connor Masteran, ruled in the playoffs.
North Carroll recorded five straight shutouts and limited Pikesville (12-3-2) to only one shot on goal.
“That goose egg was something we were definitely playing for,” Harrell said. “We had goose eggs in the first couple of games in the playoffs and when it came to crunch time, we kind of made it a focal point. Pikesville counterattacked very well, but Paul’s organization and Luke’s communication really helped us out.”
North Carroll’s attack put heavy pressure early in the first half on Pikesville goalie Seth Kopel and defenders Daniel Lewis, Djiba Camara, Zakir Muradov and Nathan Block.
Weitzel, with two defenders on him, had the best scoring chance early when his blistering 10-yard shot was saved by Kopel, who managed to deflect the ball with his right hand wide of the net.
North Carroll finally broke through in the 18th minute when Cameron Ament’s shot hit the left post, and caromed to Weitzel, who was just 2 yards away from Kopel for a tap-in.
“The last two years, the defense has pretty much been the same,” Kopel said. “It’s been pretty much been the (backbone) of our team. It has always carried our team. Tonight, the defense played very well. But their strikers were much quicker than us. We were overmatched.”
Pikesville’s scoring opportunities were few and far between in the first half. Block’s throw-in to the front of the goal was kicked over the cage by Aron Vidaurre.
Pikesville, making their first-ever appearance in the state final, had a chance with 1:55 remaining until North Carroll goalie Luke Gonzalez saved Ian Zinn’s attempt.
“We had a super year,” Pikesville coach Mark Lavallee said. “We accomplished all of our goals expect the last one. There’s nothing to hang our heads about. A lot of these guys don’t have a lot of soccer experience. We have six seniors and a bunch of juniors. There’s a lot to look forward to next year.”
Class 1A state final
North Carroll 1, Pikesville 0
Goals: NC – Weitzel
Assists: NC – Ament
Saves: P – Kopel 6; M – Gonzalez 1
Half: NC, 1-0
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun