Host Catonsville scored a pair of goals in the first 20 minutes of the first half and then held Oakland Mills scoreless the rest of the way to earn a 2-0 victory in the season opener for both teams Thursday evening.
The Comets got the first goal less than four minutes into the game on a shot by senior tri-captain Nick Sirasky from 35 yards out that wasn’t intentional.
“Honestly, it was a cross, but it rolls in,” said Sirasky, who struck the ball from the far sideline. “You put it on goal and something happens and that’s how we got the first goal and it gave us the momentum for the rest of the game.”
Catonsville coach Brendan Kennedy was just happy to see an early lead after his team hasn’t played a game since a scrimmage on Aug. 23.
“That one was just kind of fluky,” he admitted. “That one just sort of went into the back of the net, there was no rhyme or reason for that. We just got lucky the ball carried the way it did.”
Sirasky’s first reaction was disappointment because nobody was there to finish his cross.
“When it started bouncing in the box I was like, I think it’s going to go in then when it goes in I kind of put my head down because I didn’t want it to go in, but a goal is a goal and I will take whatever,” he said.
With 23:34 left in the first half the Comets got another goal that started with a punt by Comet goalie Brian Ruppel.
Ruppel’s ball was flicked forward perfectly off a back header by senior tri-captain Noah Gregory to Brian Barrientos, who drilled it into the back of the net.
Catonsville didn’t convert any chances the rest of the way.
“We had a lot of opportunities and I would have liked us to finish more and give us some better chances, but I am ultimately happy with two goals early in the game and I’m happy with the result,” Kennedy said. “It’s been awhile since we’ve been in a game like this and there are some rusty kinks that we have to work out. I’m happy with the win, happy with the first half and with good portions of our ball movement.”
Oakland Mills coach Don Shea, in his 35th year as Scorpion head coach, was equally in the dark with what to expect from his team because he wasn’t there for the shortened spring 2021 season.
“I didn’t coach in the spring and it’s going to take me awhile,” Shea said. “I think there are only five of them who ever played for me. My temperament in practice and my temperament in games is completely opposite.”
Shea subbed 11 players at a time throughout the game and that was his plan.
“We are still trying to find positions,” said Shea, who noted his squad is very young.
One player who shined at striker was junior Sam Santos. In the second half he had several scoring chances and breakaways when he got behind the defense.
With 32 minutes left, he beat the defense and chipped it over the goal.
Shea noticed his ability to create scoring chances that also included some dangerous throw-ins into the box.
“One, when he turned the corner and dropped it back, we’ve been hitting that goal since 1986 when I got to Oakland Mills and not a soul to finish it,” Shea said. “Another one was off the crossbar and one he just missed it.”
With just over four minutes left, he missed just wide on a 1v1 with goalie Ruppel.
“Defending like that is not sustainable, so we are fortunate that he missed the chances and it’s something we need to improve upon as a defense because we play at least three teams in our county who play this identical style,” said Kennedy, whose squad has 16 seniors.
The Comets’ starting defense of senior wing backs Ashton O’Dell and Jonas Hipszer, along with senior center back Andrew James and junior center back Mason Lober, were flawless in the opening half as they held the Scorpions without a shot on goal.
Sirasky felt a little offensive letdown after the Comets built the lead.
“Obviously, we didn’t want to sit back, but we kind of started sitting back and we were like ‘Oh, we got this,’” Sirasky said. “In reality, we should have stayed up, kept playing and scored as many goals as we can, but in the end we only got two.”
The senior did appreciate playing in his first fall league game since 2019.
“It just felt better, even at the end of the game, just shaking hands. I haven’t done this in like forever,” Sirasky said. “Opening game, fans here, under the lights, perfect.”
Oakland Mills’ Shea was happy to continue his friendly rivalry with the Comets.
“I enjoy playing them. We’ve played them for years and years and it’s always close,” Shea said. “I really enjoy their coaching staff, I really enjoy their kids.”
After playing in a tournament on Saturday against Dundalk and La Plata, Oakland Mills opens the county season hosting River Hill on Sept. 13.
Catonsville will play in the Catonsville Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 11. The Comets host Patterson at 9:45 a.m. and Centennial at 8 p.m.