The Baltimore County boys soccer championship game between Towson and Perry Hall took two days to complete, but it was worth the wait for the Generals.
Nearly five minutes into overtime Tuesday, Zach Sales scored after a throw-in by Justin Mealey to lift No. 7 Towson (12-1) to a 2-1 victory over the No. 15 Gators (10-4).
It was the third straight county title for the Generals, who also defeated Perry Hall in the spring of 2021 and the fall of 2019.
After a defensive showdown and a scoreless first half Monday, both teams headed for their buses when thunderstorms arrived at CCBC-Catonsville and the game was postponed until Tuesday.
On a blustery cold afternoon, with wind gusts reaching 30 to 40 miles per hour, the Generals struck first with the wind behind them.
Mealy took a free kick from inside midfield and Jake Del Viscio kept it alive with a bicycle kick that trickled to Koshish Giri, who scored for a 1-0 lead 4:10 into the second half.
“I was just anticipating where the ball was going to land and I did a great job of that,” Giri said. “Someone [Del Viscio] got a perfect touch on it and it dropped right in front of my foot and the goalie was kind of late getting to the ball and I kind of got there before him, so it was just a simple tap in for me to put it home.”
Towson nearly got a second goal with 22:31 remaining, but Jackson Kanzler’s shot caromed off the post.
Perry Hall finally got the equalizer with 4:17 left in regulation when Zach Eichelberger sent a pass to Brennan Eibner, who drilled a low shot into the corner of the net.
“When you have a dangerous striker like Zach, he can score, but he’s also a great passer,” Perry Hall coach Pete Eibner said.
The Gators kept the pressure on in the final 10 minutes and early in overtime.
“At about 12 minutes, we went to three in the back and pushed another player forward and we were able to keep the pressure on them quite a bit,” Eibner said. “That’s how we got the goal. We had a couple of other chances as well.”
Towson’s only shot of the overtime came on the goal by Sales.
“I knew the wind was going in our direction and I saw the ball was going to go right to me and then sure enough I got it on my thigh and I sent it home,” Sales said.
Sales also had a game-winning goal last week in a 1-0 win over Dulaney.
“Last week I should have told him it will probably be the most memorable goal of your life, but today it’s probably the most memorable goal,” Towson coach Randy Dase said.
Scoring both goals, on a free kick and throw-in, didn’t surprise Dase or Sales.
“Our bread and butter is usually on stop ball situations and that was a great way to start the game and all our out of bounds plays with Justin Mealey,” Dase said.
Added Sales: “We practice set pieces all the time in practice, throw-ins and corner kicks. We are very experienced in that aspect.”
Perry Hall’s Eibner was aware of how dangerous Towson can be during dead-ball situations.
“They are really good at long throws and that’s their move every year,” Eibner said.
“We didn’t clear a ball and that’s the price you pay.”
In the first half, Towson outshot Perry Hall 12-6, but neither team found the back of the net.
Perry Hall had the first quality scoring chance just over three minutes into the game, but Eichelberger’s low, hard shot was stopped by diving keeper Parker Fong for his only save of the half.
Perry Hall’s defense, which started Anastasios Pandelidis, David Steck and Sebastian Vasquez, was busy all half along with goalie Sean Knox, who had four saves before the storms hit.
The Towson defensive backs, including Eddie Anderson, James Anderson, Mealey and Graham Gleason, was strong in the opening half and Mealey created several scoring opportunities with long throw-ins into the box.
Del Viscio had a majority of the shots in the opening half and Sales had good scoring chances early and late in the half.
With 9:13 left in the half, Gleason jumped a pass at midfield and led Del Viscio. He fed Sales, but his shot was saved by Knox.
It was the closest the Generals would come in the half, and the game was halted at 5:45 p.m.
Less than 24 hours later, the Generals, who were playing in their sixth straight county title game, were champions.
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“I can’t be any prouder of the kids,” Dase said. “To have somebody score on you with four or five minutes to go and the get off the ground and get back up and put the ball in is just amazing.”