Mike Crawmer's first varsity goal couldn't have come at a better time.
The freshman reserve striker's rebound of classmate Robbie Green's shot 25 minutes into the first half put fourth-seeded Francis Scott Key into next Saturday's Class 1A Region I boys soccer playoffs, as it edged second seed Owings Mills, 1-0, at North Carroll High School last night.
Owings Mills goalie Alex Buberman made an acrobatic save on Green's initial effort, but Crawmer was right where he needed to be.
"It felt good when I hit it," Crawmer said. "Robbie had a nice hard shot, and I got there just in time to follow it up."
"Mike's goal just lifted the whole team," said Key coach Gene Hibbert, whose 7-6-1 team ousted top-seeded Poolesville of Montgomery County, 1-0, in a penalty kick shootout Wednesday night.
"[After the goal] our defense continued to play very well. I think our first game of the season [a 0-0 tie against 2A finalist Liberty] gave our defense a big boost, and they've been doing a great job all year. We hope the shutouts continue."
The best first-half opportunity for Owings Mills (7-6-1) came 11 minutes into the game, when Craig Hall's floating 40-yard direct kick forced Key goalie John Engle to leap for his first of three saves.
Randy Owings nearly sealed the game with three minutes left, breaking down the left wing and hitting a left-footed knuckleball that skimmed the crossbar. A minute later, he made another run, crossing a pass to Steve Hoare that resulted in another near-miss.
"We've gotten better as the year goes on," Hibbert said. "The guys are really believing in themselves. They've heard about the legends we had when we were state champs back in '85 and '86, and they want to get back to that level."