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Gerstell's Christopher Kovalsky, left, tries to out run Shawn Reinoehl of Saints Peter & Paul to the ball during a boys soccer game at Gerstell Academy on Wednesday, September 11.
Gerstell's Christopher Kovalsky, left, tries to out run Shawn Reinoehl of Saints Peter & Paul to the ball during a boys soccer game at Gerstell Academy on Wednesday, September 11. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Ashley Murphy didn’t do much critiquing with his Gerstell Academy boys soccer team following its match Wednesday against Saints Peter & Paul.

The Falcons started with some energy on this hot, humid afternoon, and finished with a final surge to try and stage a comeback. The Sabres prevailed 2-0, but Murphy preached positivity to his players following the loss.

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Gerstell is still looking for its first win in Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association "B" Conference play, but Murphy said the Falcons have without six regulars from the beginning of the season because of various injuries.

“The boys who are filling in are doing fantastic work, they’re working to their full potential,” Murphy said. “And that’s all I can ask from these boys. They’re soldiering on, and if it’s that last 20 minutes of the game that’s getting us, then so be it.”

Wednesday’s contest was moved from Gerstell’s stadium to a grass field adjacent to Paterakis Athletic Center, because temperatures on the artificial playing surface surpassed 100 degrees. Officials broke the halves into 20-minute sessions with breaks for water.

Saints Peter & Paul broke through midway through the first half when junior Shawn Reinoehl took a pass from Keller Daniels along the left side, weaved around a few Gerstell defenders and found the net.

Daniels, a sophomore, added an insurance goal with 30 minutes to play after a burst through the middle of the Falcons’ back row. Daniels raced into position and chipped a shot just past Gerstell keeper Daniel Burns after Burns tried to come up and play the ball.

The Sabres (2-0, 2-0 MIAA B) applied pressure throughout with 10 corner-kick tries, and Burns finished with nine saves.

“It’s hard. We have a lot of freshmen playing, and we don’t have that many seniors ... we have to have everyone we can get," said junior Gregory MechPaz, one of Gerstell’s captains.

Gerstell's Kaden Major, center, tries to play the ball with his body while holding off pressure from behind by Ben McCalmon of Saints Peter & Paul during a boys soccer game at Gerstell Academy on Wednesday, September 11.
Gerstell's Kaden Major, center, tries to play the ball with his body while holding off pressure from behind by Ben McCalmon of Saints Peter & Paul during a boys soccer game at Gerstell Academy on Wednesday, September 11. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

The Falcons have four ninth-graders on their roster, and added a fifth for Wednesday’s game. Throw in four sophomores, and a wealth of varsity inexperience, and Murphy said Gerstell is facing its share of challenges in the early going of 2019.

The Falcons don’t seem to be hanging their heads.

“I want them competing to the best of their ability, and that’s what they’re doing,” said Murphy, who is in his third year as Gerstell’s coach. “That’s all I can ask as their coach, for that workhorse mentality.”

Murphy said he expects the Falcons to compete this season, particularly when their return to full strength in a few weeks. Gerstell opened the season with a 4-2 loss at St. Mary’s, then fell 3-0 to Severn on Monday.

MechPaz shares captain duties with seniors Caleb Frey and C.J. Kovalsky, and Murphy praised Kovalsky for his leadership on and off the field. Kovalsky was one of the more vocal players Wednesday for Gerstell, barking out encouragement and assignments during the match.

Concordia Prep won the MIAA B Conference title last year, and Gerstell hosts the Saints on Sept. 20. The Falcons’s next game is a road match Sept. 13 with Glenelg Country School.

Gerstell has a championship past, with MIAA C titles in 2011 and 2012, and claimed a MIAA B crown in 2013.

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“In the next two, three weeks, I think we’ll be a different team,” Murphy said. “The boys have been giving their all ... if they continue to do that, it will give us more depth. We’ll be doing good.”

Goals: SPP-Shawn Reinoehl, Keller Daniels.

Assists: None.

Saves: SPP-1; G-9 (Daniel Burns).

Halftime: SPP, 1-0.

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