With five minutes left before Saturday's 2A boys soccer state semifinal game between Fallston and South Carroll would have to be decided on penalty strokes, Fallston's Chris Grant blasted a shot into the opposing net following a free kick to give the Cougars a 2-1 sudden death overtime victory over the Cavaliers, and with it a trip back to the state championship game.
Elsewhere, C. Milton Wright and Havre de Grace, the two other Harford boys teams with state title hopes still alive, dropped their respective semifinal contests Saturday.
Fallston will play Hereford, a 2-1 winner over Oakland Mills in Saturday's other semifinal, for the state 2A title at UMBC at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Fallston's semifinal game, played at Bel Air High, had been a 1-1 tie since South Carroll scored a game-tying goal in the 32nd minute of the first half and had moved through the remainder of regulation, one 10-minute sudden death overtime period and half of another sudden death period before Grant knocked home the winning shot.
"I really got lucky, because the ball played to me was just perfect," Grant said after the game. "It landed right at my feet, I got a good look at the goal, and it just went in. It feels so good to win a game like this."
The game's first goal came at the 15-minute mark when Fallston's Jordan Greenwood headed a cross into the Cavaliers' net to give the Cougars a 1-0 edge.
South Carroll scored on a free kick with eight minutes left before halftime and the two teams were knotted at one until Grant's goal.
"This team, they've been playing together since they were eight years old," Fallston head coach Drew Bisker said. "They know each other. The Fallston rec program brought all these guys to me. I mean, anybody could coach this team. The guys are that good."
Fallston, which won its lone Maryland title in 1992, has been to the state final nine times before, with three of those trips coming in the last five years. In this year's title game, the Cougars opponent, Hereford, is a three-time champ (1987, 1988, 1989) and was a state finalist in 2009.
"We watched Hereford play earlier today," Bisker said. "They play a lot like us. They move the ball around well, and they don't play a lot of kick and run. So, I think we're pretty evenly matched with them. If the guys can just keep doing what they've been doing this whole season, playing good soccer, they're going to be fine. It should be a really good matchup either way."
Havre de Grace defeated
Playing at North County High School in the Class 1A state semifinal round on Saturday night, the Havre de Grace Warriors saw their season come to a close with a 1-0 loss to 1A North regional champ Pikesville.
Havre de Grace had earned their spot in the semifinal with a victory over Friendship Academy in the 1A South regional title game.
Class 3A North champ C. Milton Wright was knocked out of contention Saturday with a penalty kick loss to Northern Calvert in the 3A state semifinal matchup at CCBC-Essex.
The contest moved to penalty kicks after the two squads could not resolve a 1-1 tie through regulation time and two 10-minute sudden death periods.
Northern converted four of its penalty kicks, while the Mustangs made three of theirs.
The game's two regulation-time goals were separated by more than an hour. Northern struck first just four minutes into the contest, as Ryan Knight put a shot into the CMW net. In the 76th minute, CMW's Ryan Nevins found the equalizer, scoring a goal that would eventually send the game to overtime, and penalty kicks.