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Baltimore County Sports

Ben Wheeler’s offense, Spencer Baker’s goaltending lead Hereford boys soccer over Catonsville, 2-1

Hereford freshman Ben Wheeler couldn’t have picked a better time to score his first varsity goal. The forward converted a pass from Nick Antonokos early in the second half to break a scoreless tie and lead the visiting Bulls to a 2-1 victory over Catonsville.

“I just tried to hit it far post with my left foot,” he said.

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Wheeler credited coach Adam Mizzell for lifting the team at halftime.

“He always gives us energy and we always bring more energy in the second half and we are trying to get that goal to steal the game,” Wheeler said.

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Mizzell was just happy to see his young striker be more aggressive.

“We are working on him, he’s really shy and he tends to not be selfish when he needs to be, so we are trying to break him of that,” Mizzell said after his team improved to 4-1. “If he gets more of a killer instinct and goes to goal, good things will happen for him.”

Good things also happened for sophomore striker Oliver Shive when he netted the second goal after a cross by Tyler Warfel with 9:19 left in the game.

Mizzell was happy to see his team be more attack-oriented in the second half.

“I thought in the first half we left a few goals out there and the message at halftime was, they are out there, let’s go get it,” he said. “Let’s put the work in and do the extra little details to get on the end of one and execute in the attack.”

Catonsville’s only goal came with 55 seconds remaining. Bryan Barrientos converted a cross from Musa Kholti Yamani. Catonsville (3-1) stayed scoreless until the final minute thanks to strong defensive work from Hereford senior defenders Mickey Briggs, Finn Griffin and Nathan Punte and senior goalie Spencer Baker.

Baker made a diving save on a shot by Haines Milnor with 10:30 left in the first half and he stopped a close shot by Kholti Yamani in the second half. Baker also squelched a pair of corner kicks with punchouts.

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“He’s top-notch, he’s a senior and we are very, very lucky to have him,” Mizzell said of his goalie. “He’s put in the work for this program and he’s everything we are about. He’s the most coachable guy, he never cheats you, he always gives you 100 percent … and the kids follow that example and it rubs off on the rest of them.”

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The Comets got strong midfield play from senior midfielder Noah Gregory, though he was constantly hounded by two or three Bulls.

“We knew they have some really good attacking players so we talked about defensively how we can’t afford mistakes because they will penalize you for it,” Mizzell said. “By no means was it a masterpiece, but it is early in the season and this is a hard place to win and we don’t do a lot of it.”

Catonsville coach Brendan Kennedy praised the Bulls, who won a majority of the 50-50 balls in the midfield.

“We gave up the ball too much, they took advantage. They just kind of outworked and outhustled us and they made it happen there,” he said. “They are a good team nonetheless, so props to them they’ve got a good squad.”

The Comets won its first three games, but the coach is hoping to see more energy early in the game.

“I do wish that we could be more urgent,” Kennedy said. “We’ve scored a lot of goals in the second half this year and not so much in the first. We’ve been trying to work on starting games better.”


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