To most coaches, a win is a win.

After her team narrowly squeaked by perennial 3A powerhouse Oakland Mills of Howard County in a 2-1 season-opening overtime thriller, Severna Park High girls soccer coach Joyce Stefancik doesn't seem to believe that.

As a result of an inadvertent handball by Scorpion fullback Bridget Roberts, the Falcons' Nicki Cecere was called upon to convert a penalty shot at 7 minutes, 36 seconds in the first overtime with the game deadlocked at 1-1.

The junior midfielder tucked a right-footed shot into the lower left-hand corner of the net past goalkeeper Jenny Golding, to give the four-time defending Howard County champs their second loss in as many games.

While Stefancik was visibly happy with the outcome, she was just as visibly apologetic about the way in which the game was decided, after her team clearly was outplayed for most of the match.

"I definitely would have preferred not to win the game on a penalty kick. It was a very well-played game, and I know their coach would have felt better if it was decided another way," said Stefancik.

During the first 50 minutes of the match, it looked as though an overtime period may not have been necessary.

The host Falcons had a 1-0 lead, thanks to a fast-break goal by striker Betsy Anderson. The senior took a long pass from teammate Cathi Hanson and pounded a right-footed shot into the left corner with less than eight minutes to go in the first half.

Before Anderson's goal, Oakland Mills had threatened on numerous occasions, as midfielders Christine Copeland, Mia Dammen and striker Tyann Blissett constantly peppered Falcon keeper Tami Riley. The senior net minder had stopped eight enemy shots by the end of the opening stanza while anchoring a defensive unit that bent on many occasions, but did not break.

"Tami had a fantastic game. I've been saying all along that she is the best goalkeeper in the state. Today, she showed just how good she is. She made a number of key saves. She gets my nomination for player of the game," said Stefancik.

Just before the end of the first half, Dammen kept Riley busy as she cranked two left-footed missiles in the 20-to 30-yard range. The first shot caromed off of the crossbar, while the second was smothered by Riley.

"They (Oakland Mills) have some fine ball players, especially No. 3 (Dammen) and No. 20 (striker Stefanie Magro). Those two especially gave us a lot of trouble," said Stefancik.

During the early portion of the second half, the Scorpions outshot Severna Park 13-5, as Riley continued to bail the Falcon defense out of numerous jams. However, at 52:07 in the half, Dammen fed Magro with a long crossing pass just beyond midfield. Magro took the pass in stride and booted a shot underneath of the All-County candidate, setting the stage for overtime.

During the end of regulation, Dammen used her superior ball-handling skills to make numerous runs through the Severna Park defense, firing two last-ditch shots. The first was snuffed by Falcon fullback Eileen Westcoat, the other became Riley's 13th save of the afternoon.

"This was a very disappointing loss for us, especially after dominating the whole game," said Oakland Mills coach Cynthia Odell. "We played our hearts out the entire game. I couldn't have asked for any more from them."

Copyright The Baltimore Sun 1990

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