Liberty seals county title Unbeaten Lions top Panthers, 2-0 Boys soccer


This celebration couldn't wait for the parking lot, the bus or a fast-food restaurant.

So the Liberty soccer players dove into a quagmire in the middle of the field last night after clinching the Carroll County high school boys soccer title with a 2-0 victory over host North Carroll.

Not only had the Lions won the county title but they became only the second team in the history of the school to register an unbeaten regular season (10-0-2, 5-0-1).

The first unbeaten boys soccer regular season was in 1981, when the Lions went 12-0 led in part by Lee Kestler Jr.

Last night, his father, Lee Sr., found out what it was like to guide Liberty through an unbeaten season for the first time in his 10 years as coach of the Lions.

Lee Sr. also discovered what it was like to get hugged by a mud-covered goalkeeper, Josh Gursky, who went running up to the coach after taking part in the mud bath.

Kestler could only grin a little and why not. His team will be top-seeded in the 2A West Regional and gunning for the state tournament.

"I thought we played well considering the conditions," said Kestler. "We wanted to keep the ball out of the middle of the field and on the grassy places and we did a pretty good job. We were pleased to get two goals and Josh took care of things in the goal."

It wasn't a spectacular night for Gursky because he was never really severely tested by the Panthers, who were outshot, 15-8.

But Gursky did have a solid night and said the Lions now have righted themselves after a late-season mini-slump that resulted in the two ties.

"We're finishing our chances now and ready to go for the states," said the senior keeper.

Liberty senior Steve Reigel gave the Lions a 1-0 lead 10:07 into the game when he lifted a soft hooking shot into the goal from 10 yards out.

The Lions continued to attack most of the first half but North Carroll fullback Matt Ruhlman made a super save when goalie Darren Martin went down on the slick turf.

Ruhlman made two more of those last-second saves in the game before the Lions made it 2-0 with 2:40 left on Eric Tupis' goal off an assist by Tom Partenope, who sent a nice pass in front of the net for Tupis.

North Carroll (3-8, 1-5) had no answers in the final minutes for the champion Lions, who eliminated any hopes Westminster (4-5-1, 2-1) had of winning the title.

North Carroll coach Ed Powelson said: "That first goal [by Reigel] kind of killed us. Those kind don't usually go in, but it did this time. I was proud of the effort our kids gave. I believe they played about as well as they could."

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