For 48 minutes, Severna Park forward Daniel Kwon found himself constantly trailed by a Blake defender, with little space to create scoring chances in Friday night's Class 4A state championship game at UMBC.
Kwon, however, found a seam early in the second half, took a short cross from Griffin Kowalewski and drove the ball with his left foot into the center of the goal to provide the No. 3 Falcons with a 1-0 victory and third state title in program history.
"Griffin played a really good ball down the middle, I just faked it with my right and then put it away with my left foot," Kwon said about the goal. "I know the team has my back. We all play for each other. There's not that much pressure on me honestly."
Severna Park finished the season at 17-0-2. The Falcons, who were making their fourth consecutive state tournament appearance, also won titles in 1983 and 2001. Kwon finished the season with 16 goals.
"It's really about the guys," Severna Park coach Ryan Parisi said. I'm just trying to get them to play their best at the most important time. They've been together for 90-plus days working hard. All the credit falls to them."
After a few shaky opening minutes, the Falcons settled down and dictated the run of play for much of the first half. Kowalewski created a couple of chances with long-range shots that were knocked by Bengals goalie Matt Russell.
Blake (15-4), which was making its first appearance in the state tournament, relied mostly on counter-attacks and managed to create a few opportunities. However, the first half ended scoreless with the Falcons outshooting Blake 6-1.
The Bengals' 6-foot-4 forward Tanner Williams had the best chance early in the second half, but Severna Park goalie Craig Wishart came up with a big save. The Falcons then took advantage as Kowalewski beat his defender just inside the penalty area and hit a low cross to Kwon, who finished from close-range with 32:38 left in the game.
With George Gaylord and Karl Schmidt anchoring the backline, the Falcons withstood a late rally by Blake and held on for the title.
"I thought our guys came out and fought hard for 80 minutes," Blake coach David Edlow said. "It was a like championship game should be, back and forth. Unfortunately, we couldn't get on the end of any of our chances tonight."
Class 4A state championship
Severna Park 1, Blake 0
Saves: SP-- Wishart 3; B--Russell 5
Half: 0-0Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun