It was as if it were two different games with two different teams last night as defending Carroll County champ Westminster was host to up-and-coming South Carroll in the opener for both teams.
After South Carroll took a 1-0 lead into the half, the rest of the night belonged to Westminster as it came from behind to claim a 3-1 win on Jason Hewett's goal with just under three minutes remaining.
The senior striker sneaked behind the Cavaliers' defense, took a pretty through ball from Jason Safely and slipped a low shot just under South Carroll keeper Brian Peltier for the game winner.
"You couldn't have practiced it any better than that," said Westminster coach Chuck Beaver, whose Owls went 5-0 in county play last year.
"It was a pretty goal that just flowed. The South Carroll defense was pushing forward a little more late in the game and I think we caught them off guard a bit. We told them at half we needed to shoot low on Peltier. He's a big wide kid and most of our shots in the first half were right at him."
In the closing minute, senior Jason Magin added insurance, taking a feed from Brad Towns and beating Peltier low to the right side.
The Owls had tied the game on a Steve Hockstra penalty shot with 24 minutes left in the game. Safely was just inside the left corner of the penalty box when a South Carroll defender took him down and the referee issued the penalty kick. Peltier got a piece of the Hockstra penalty kick, but couldn't turn it back as it found the back of the net.
The Owls dominated the majority of the second half and fired seven shots at Peltier before the Cavaliers got their first shot of the half.
The young Westminster defense was tested early and often by the visiting Cavaliers. South Carroll had the better of it in the first half, outshooting the Owls 7-4. It found the net at the 21-minute mark when junior midfielder Emmanuel Smyrnioudis collected a ball just inside the 18-yard line, turned and fired a shot to the top right post that beat Westminster senior goalie Adam Messer.