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Hammond boys soccer beats Atholton for first playoff win since 2013

The Hammond boys soccer team poses for a picture after beating Atholton, 2-1, in a playoff game on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019.
The Hammond boys soccer team poses for a picture after beating Atholton, 2-1, in a playoff game on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. (Tim Schwartz)

The last time Hammond boys soccer won a playoff game, the current seniors were in sixth grade. It was 2013 when the Golden Bears beat McDonough on the road, 3-0, but they have since lost five straight playoff openers.

The streak came to an end Wednesday, as Hammond came from behind to beat visiting Atholton, 2-1, to advance to the second round of the 3A East, Region II playoffs. It will play at River Hill Friday night.

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“That was a little bit expected,” Golden Bears coach David Reamer said. “I thought we were the better team.”

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association released the boys and girls soccer playoff brackets on Oct. 21.

Hammond (6-9) played the Raiders (2-10-3) just five days ago and won, 1-0, on a lone first-half goal by Kevin Hernandez. There were no secrets when the two teams squared off Wednesday. Both teams expected another physical, low-scoring game that would be decided by one goal.

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This time, however, the Raiders struck first. Sophomore Josh Martins put away a ball that Golden Bears goalkeeper Brandon Eschman (nine saves) simply dropped near the top of the box in the 4th minute.

“I asked my players at halftime, how many times has he messed up this year? They said this is the first,” Reamer said. “It happens, so you just have to keep going from there, which they did. … That was the key thing.”

Hammond dominated possession throughout the first half and felt it was just a matter of time until it evened the score. It eventually came in the 31st minute, when junior Brandon Sindjui got past two defenders at full speed and sent a perfect pass to leading goal-scorer Isaac Owusu, who took two touches and put a shot off the outside of his right foot into the far side of goal past Atholton goalkeeper Nick DeSousa (six saves).

River Hill boys soccer improved to 11-1 overall and reclaimed the top spot in the Howard County standings with a 4-1 win at Howard on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019.

The physicality picked up the last 10 minutes of the first half. Two Golden Bears players were given yellow cards in addition to one handed out to a Raiders player between the two goals.

Reamer had a simple message to his team at the intermission.

“Relax, just play your game,” Reamer said. “It’ll fall; it’ll come to us.”

The winning goal came down an unfortunate bounce against Atholton. A defender was called for a handball in the box in the 54th minute, and junior center back Jake Skintges hammered the penalty kick into the ride of goal to give Hammond a 2-1 lead.

It was Skintges’ first goal of the season.

“Any time you have a center back taking a PK, it’s always a little bit edgy,” Reamer said. “I think that’s the first one he’s taken. They wanted to share the wealth a little bit.”

The Golden Bears had a chance to all but end the game three minutes later, but Hernandez sent a penalty kick over the goal.

Ousman Touray scored twice and Wilde Lake boys soccer beat River Hill, 2-1 in overtime, in Clarksville on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019.

The Raiders put the pressure on in the last 10 minutes, but their season-long offensive woes continued until the bitter end. They had three goal-scoring opportunities but none got past Eschman.

Atholton finishes the season with just 10 goals scored in 15 games.

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“We couldn’t score goals. We had a problem scoring goals and really the county has gotten better,” said Raiders coach Zuri Barnes. “I am surprised how good Hammond is. … We just weren’t able to put things together. I think today was one of our better games but we still weren’t able to get there. We left a lot in a lot of games.”

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