Mount Hebron senior midfielder Luke Baldwin has shown a knack for making a good early impression the past two seasons.
Both years, the Vikings’ season openers have included a clutch goal from him.
Still scoreless against Perry Hall midway through the second half Friday, Baldwin headed home a set piece and the No. 7 Vikings made it hold for a 1-0 win over the No. 13 Gators at the opening day of the Bel Air Invitational.
Ethan Bishop hit a free kick from 35 yards to the near post. Gabe Bonilla headed it across for Baldwin to put away.
The Gators threatened to tie — their best chance coming shortly after when Asare Kieran hit the crossbar from 8 yards — but the Vikings were able to hang on with much of the game played in steady rain.
It was same old, same old for Baldwin, who scored against Catonsville in last year’s season-opening win.
“Same tournament,” he said. “It’s a great start to the season and good motivation for the rest of the season. We have a hard-working group that does it every day in practice and we’re just dedicated to winning states.”
For various reasons, including nagging injuries and vacations, the Vikings were shorthanded but still managed to grind out a win.
“I saw a lot of good things. We had five potential starters out and the kids stepped up, so i’m just really proud of them,” said Mount Hebron coach Mike Linsenmeyer, who expects everybody back next week.
Because of a persistent thunderstorm, the tournament’s final game featuring host Bel Air and Eastern Tech was postponed until 9 a.m. Saturday.
Mount Hebron takes on Patapsco at 2 p.m. and Perry Hall meets Bel Air on Saturday.
No. 2 C. Milton Wright 1, Hereford 1 (CMW wins shootout, 6-5): After both teams made good on their first five penalty kicks, the defending Class 3A champion Mustangs got a goal from Ryan Lindsey before goalkeeper Zach Hetrick made a clinching save.
Scoreless at the break, the Mustangs came out fast in the second half, getting a goal from Jayson Butler in the 45th minute off a through ball from Conner Appleby.
The Bulls (10-4 last season) got a tying goal from Austin Craig on a free kick with 30 minutes to play.
“Overall, it was not a terrible effort for the first game. We’re not thrilled with a lot of what we saw. We weren’t as sharp as we’d like to be,” C. Milton Wright coach Brian Tully said. “We possessed the ball, we just think we need a little more urgency how we play and dictate the pace of the play a little more. It’s a journey — you don’t win anything the first week of the season, so we’ll learn from it and we’ll get back to work tomorrow.”
C. Milton Wright will take on Class 2A champion Eastern Tech at 4 p.m. Saturday in the tournament’s second day.
The Mustangs were without All-Metro senior Ryan Belfiore, who is nursing a hamstring injury but is expected to return to the lineup next week.
Hereford will take on Fallston at noon.
Earlier on Friday, John Carroll claimed a 3-1 win over Patapsco and Dulaney earned a 5-2 win over Fallston.
Bel Air Invitational
7 Mount Hebron 1, 13 Perry Hall 0
Goals: MH — Baldwin.
Assists: MH — Bonilla
Saves: PH — Gurung 4; MH — Carguilo 3.
2 C.Milton Wright 1, Hereford 1
(CMW wins in penalty kicks, 6-50
Goals: CMW — Butler; H — Craig.
Assists: CMW — Appleby.
Saves: CMW — Hetrick 4; H — Barnard 2, Hoosier 3.