PASADENA — All season long, Francis Scott Key boys soccer team has lived by the word “work.”
It’s gotten the Eagles their first regional championship since 1992, and Friday night, work got them their first appearance in a state championship game since 1986 with a 2-0 win over International High School Langley Park in the Class 1A state semifinals.
After a scoreless first half at Northeast-Anne Arundel High School, FSK (9-5-2) withstood the Phoenix’s initial second-half pressure to score its first goal. With IHSLP goalie Diego Ortega playing out and off his line, senior forward Kolton Puckett’s header rolled into the goal in the 49th minute.
The Eagles’ defense stood pat over the next 20 minutes, holding against a smaller but talented IHSLP team. The Phoenix (16-3) had three set pieces in a two-minute span over the 67th and 68th minute. A free kick was blocked by FSK’s wall, then Eagle goalie Nathan Perry slapped a corner kick out of the box and over the end line. The ensuing corner went high.
One minute later, leading scorer Carter Shipley controlled a ball from 15 yards out, turned and fired a shot into the right side of the net. FSK kept IHSLP off the board for the next 10 minutes, continuing their historic run.
Play was even in the first half, though both teams played different styles. FSK looked to play the ball over the top and try to outrun defenders, though most potential chances were snuffed out by Ortega. The best opportunity for FSK came in the 11th minute, when Puckett put a shot just wide of the net.
The Phoenix were more traditional, starting to build from midfield before letting their playmakers take over. Like Ortega did to the Eagles, Perry was able to keep IHSLP at bay. The Phoenix had the better looks on goal, and like FSK their best first half opportunity came early in the half. Junior forward Jonathan Alvarado intercepted a Perry throw, set, turned and fired a point-blank shot wide of the net.
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The Eagles will play the winner of Saturday’s state semifinal between Mountain Ridge and Crisfield in the 1A championship next week at Ridley Athletic Complex at Loyola University. The win would be FSK’s first state title since 1986, when it captured the second of back-to-back Class C titles.