Hammond High salvaged respect, if not its season, with a remarkable week of soccer.
The Bears (6-4, 3-2) defeated Howard on Tuesday, 4-1. They had lost four straight to the Lions, who had playoff hopes at the time.
Then Hammond upset undefeated and third-ranked Glenelg on Thursday, 2-1. Striker Kris Jefferson scored both goals in an outstanding effort.
When the Bears went for their third win in four days Friday against seventh-ranked Atholton, they came up 30 seconds short.
Hammond led 2-1 with 30 seconds left in regulation, but sophomore Damian Kapcala scored off a penalty kick. After three tough games in four days, Hammond lost in overtime, 3-2.
Hammond coach Rich Corkran was unhappy about the officiating.
Corkran complained that the officials did not keep proper time and allowed Atholton several extra minutes in which to tie it up.
"It was a Cinderella week until the refs turned it back into a pumpkin," Corkran said.
The loss, combined with Oakland Mills' tie with Centennial on Saturday, most likely cost Hammond its shot at the regional playoffs.
Had Oakland Mills lost to Centennial instead of tying, Hammond's playoff hopes would be alive because the Bears play Oakland Mills on Friday. Now, it would take an unlikely victory by Mount Hebron over Oakland Mills tomorrow to make Friday's outcome meaningful again.
Two faces of ties
Ask the Oakland Mills Scorpions (6-2-2, 2-1-2) and they'll tell you that ties are great. They tied twice last week, and they're headed for the Class 2A playoffs.
The 1-1 tie with Glenelg Tuesday raised the ire of Glenelg's players, however.
Glenelg coach John Bouman said that one official in that game was a former coach of the Rowdies, a club team on which about 10 members of the Oakland Mills team once played.
The appearance of a conflict of interest left a sour taste in Glenelg's mouth when the game deteriorated into a shoving and bumping match -- just the style Oakland Mills favors.
The taste grew even more sour when that official was perceived as ignoring an apparent trip in the penalty box by an Oakland Mills defender late in the game -- an infraction that calls for a penalty kick.
Dan Gaertner, the player who was tripped, said, "There definitely should have been a penalty called."
The Scorpions' rugged style of play leaves most teams strung out for their next game. Only two Oakland Mills opponents this season have won their next games, said Scorpions coach Don Shea.
All five of Oakland Mills' league opponents have followed that pattern of next-game losses.
Will the pattern hold up when top-ranked Centennial faces Atholton tomorrow?
Reality of county play
First-year Mount Hebron coach Kevin Good received a reality check once the league season began.
His team, which had gone 3-2 in non-league games and seemed to be improving week by week, began its league schedule with losses to Howard and Hammond. Then it lost to Centennial, Glenelg and Atholton.
"Everything is so much quicker in county games, the level of play so much higher, that it's just not as easy," Good said. "It's a rude awakening."
Scott Baughman is Mount Hebron's leading scorer with five goals and three assists, fullback Matt Eaton has played well and junior stopper Mike Cronin and sophomore striker Gordon Overby have earned Good's praise.
"We've already achieved our first preseason goal -- winning more games than last year," Good said. "And our second goal was to win one county game."