Midway through the first half of Tuesday's Anne Arundel County boys soccer championship, No. 12 North County had a feeling things may go its way when undefeated No. 6 Severna Park permitted an own goal to give the Knights an early advantage.
Junior midfielder Heikki Katojisto and sophomore goalie Jake Hensley helped make sure the positive tone remained.
Katojisto, an exchange student from Finland, scored two blistering goals — one in each half — and Hensley turned away a penalty kick as the Knights fended off Severna Park for a 3-1 upset win and the program's first county championship.
North County improves to 12-2-1, avenging a 2-1 loss to Severna Park on Sept. 27. The Falcons, who posted 10 shutouts and allowed just five goals in 14 regular-season games, fell for the first time after 14 straight wins.
Looking to build on the 1-0 lead, Katojisto controlled a ball from 25 yards out, quickly turned and fired a left-footed shot that found the top left corner to make it 2-0.
After Severna Park sophomore Daniel Kwon scored his 18th goal of the season with 29 minutes left in the second half to cut the lead to 2-1, the Knights handled plenty of pressure moments to secure the win. The biggest came with 22 minutes left, when Kwon lined up for a penalty kick that Hensley guessed correctly on — diving to his right and then quickly recovering to pounce on the rebound with Kwon a step away from a second chance. Katojisto sealed the win late with another clean strike from 10 yards out.
"It was a team effort and a really big step for us, but this isn't the end — we still have places we want to go," said Hensley, who finished with six saves.
As for the clutch save on the penalty kick, he added: "It's basically 50-50 and I guessed right. I felt like a million bucks."
South River wins girls title
Last week, South River junior forward Kacie Longo continually showed her frustration when shots she sent at the Arundel goal went high or wide as the Seahawks were blanked in an overtime loss.
Given a second chance at the undefeated and No. 3 Wildcats in the Anne Arundel County championship game Tuesday night, Longo and the No. 4 Seahawks were all smiles.
Longo headed home the game's first goal 10 minutes in and Kenidy Springer scored a minute later to help lead the Seahawks to a 3-0 win at North County, avenging the 1-0 overtime setback and bringing home the program's third county title.
"Basically I knew I needed to redeem myself," Longo said. "I had a lot of chances last week and again tonight. It was a relief and exciting [to score the first goal]. I was proud of my team. We worked really well together tonight."
South River improves to 13-2 on the season, handing the Wildcats their first setback after 14 straight wins. The teams could meet a third time if they reach the Class 4A East region final.
Rebekah Petty made it 3-0 late in the first half, and then freshman goalie Emily Proctor made a big save on a point-blank shot by Arundel's Emani Silva with 28 minutes to play to protect the lead.
Anne Arundel County championship
(at North County)
No. 12 North County 3, No. 6 Severna Park 1
Goals: NC — own, Katojisto 2; SP -- Kwon
Assists: NC — Miller
Saves: NC — Hensley 6; SP – Thomas 4
Half: NC, 2-0
No. 4 South River, No. 3 Arundel 0
Goals: SR — Ka. Longo, Springer, Petty
Assists: SR — Petty, Ka. Longo, Berkowitz
Saves: SR — Proctor 3; A — Dayton-Hegedus 3
Half: SR, 3-0