Oakland Mills' boys soccer team took the hard road yesterday.
Coach Don Shea rested all but three starters against Hammond in preparation for postseason play. Still, 10th-ranked Oakland Mills nipped the host Golden Bears, 1-0, in the final regular-season game for both Howard County schools.
Oakland Mills' Keith Murphy, a sophomore midfielder, scored at 20:12 of the first half.
"It was very good to see that we can still play good soccer even when we're playing without our starting lineup," Murphy said. "Most of our seniors and two of our captains didn't even play today, and it will help us Wednesday."
That day, third-seeded Oakland Mills (8-2-2, 4-1-2) will face second-seeded Towson in the opening round of the Region II, Class 2A playoffs.
The Scorpions have defeated Hammond in all 14 years of the school's existence. Last year, Oakland Mills won by an identical score and recorded its goal at nearly the same time.
Hammond (7-5, 4-3) pressured constantly, dominated in shots on goal (28-8) and kept the Scorpions back line of sweeper Brent Mascot, stopper Mike Jenkins and backs Chris Warner and Nathan Matherly busy. However, not all of Hammond's shots were crisp, and goalie Mike Caldwell made just eight saves.
The only score originated off midfielder Rob Ricketts' sideline throw-in. Scorpions striker Christopher Brown, positioned at the side of the net, received the ball and quickly centered it for Murphy darting down the middle. On a sweeping motion, he scored.
"My job is trash, and I get the balls that come out," Murphy said. "I saw Brown crossing the ball as I was moving in."
In the second half, Hammond couldn't convert some prime scoring opportunities. A header by striker and leading scorer Kris Jefferson, who was lurking near the penalty box all game, hit the top crossbar. The Golden Bears' other striker, Ryan Pollock, missed an open net.
Marked tightly all game, Jefferson was disappointed by the lack of penalty calls by officials.
"I thought the officiating was poor," he said. "Every time I got fouled in the box, I would look to the ref for a call and he would giggle."
* Perry Hall 5, Franklin 1: Brad Bornman and Scott Kennell scored two goals each, as No. 12 Perry Hall (9-1, 9-0) defeated No. 14 Franklin (9-1-1, 8-1-1) to capture the Baltimore County 4A-3A Division regular-season title.
Franklin took a 1-0 lead when Phil Burns scored an unassisted goal 10 minutes into the game, but Bornman and Kennell answered with a goal each to give the Gators a 2-1 halftime lead.
Chris Ude, Bornman and Kennell scored second-half goals to secure the victory.
* Dulaney 8, Woodlawn 0: Matt Rich scored twice and had an assist and Bill Siciliano scored a goal and assisted on two others, as Dulaney (9-1-1) blanked host Woodlawn (1-7) in a Baltimore County 4A-3A Division game.
* Randallstown 2, Kenwood 1: Brian Kavalsky scored both goals to lead Randallstown (3-9, 2-5) over visiting Kenwood (2-5, 1-4) in a Baltimore County 4A-3A game.