Catonsville junior Musa Kholti Yamani netted a game-winning goal in overtime to give the host Comets a 2-1 victory over Towson in the season opener for both teams.
The loss for the Generals was the first against a Baltimore County foe since the final game of the 2019 season. The three-time Baltimore County champions had won 17 straight league games.
The game-ending play started with a corner kick by Haines Milnor. He feed it to Noah Gregory outside the box and Gregory assisted Kholti Yamani.
“He gave it to me and I was ready to shoot, because in the second half I didn’t shoot it,” Kholti Yamani said. “I feinted left and he went with it and just hit back post.”
“He’s been playing regularly since he was a freshman, but he’s getting more starting time this year and he keeps maturing and his game keeps rounding out,” Catonsville coach Brendan Kennedy said. “He’s such a game-changer for us and he’s so confident and strong on the ball and we can count on him in those situations.”
Leading up to the final goal were several hustle plays by the Comets in Towson’s defensive zone.
Gregory set up an earlier corner kick and Kholti Yamani intercepted a Towson throw-in and drew a foul that led to a free kick by Gregory that was deflected over the end line by Towson’s Josh Villano.
That preceded the Comets’ final corner kick.
Catonsville started the scoring when Bryan Barrientos took a pass down the left sideline from Austin Haywood and deposited the ball into the opposite corner with 31:26 left in the first half.
Barrientos, a first team All-County and first team All-Division player last season for the regional champion Comets, led the team in scoring with 14 goals and six assists.
The Comets nearly had two more goals after the Barrientos score, but one was nullified by an offsides call and a shot by William Yom was repelled on the goal line by defender Villano.
“I’m happy because we competed and if you think about it, they got that first goal and another one that our back [Villano] headed out,” Towson coach Randy Dase said. “It could have been 2-0 and we could have dug a big hole, but we battled back and had a few opportunities, but we were on our heels too much in the second half.”
Towson tied the game with 6:50 left in the first half when a free kick by Jake Del Viscio, from just outside the box, was saved to the left by Comet goalie Ryan Graham. It caromed to a charging Julian Carter-Bey and he drilled it home.
In the second half, Towson’s best scoring opportunity came on a shot by Jensen Specht from 25 yards out that was punched over the top of the crossbar by Graham.
“That was a fantastic save,” Kennedy said.
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The Comets got strong defensive play from Mason Lober and Owen Holub-Smith and they kept the pressure on the Towson defense the rest of the way.
“They are a potent offensive team,” Dase said. “[Gregory] is one of the best ballplayers you will see this year in the county. Their midfield is strong and they are strong up front.”
Kennedy credited a third preseason game for the team’s stamina in the second half and overtime and playing the highly-ranked Generals served as motivation.
“We knew that this was going to be a really strong way to start our season playing the three-time county champs, so we were ready to go,” Kennedy said.
Dase, whose team hosts the Comets on Oct. 11, hopes his team learns from a rare defeat.
“You hate to lose, but I’ve got a feeling we are going to have to learn from certain games this year,” Dase said.