Lutheran had top seed in the Maryland Scholastic Association Armstrong B Conference soccer playoffs wrapped up before its game with Park. For the Saints, this game didn't mean much.
For Park, however, it did.
Park got goals from Kevin D'Anna, Geoff Reed and Neal Fruman plus a 15-save performance from goalkeeper Scott Snyder to hand the Saints their first loss of the season, 3-1, yesterday.
The victory moved Park (5-4-1, 4-3-1) from fourth to second seed for the conference playoffs that start tomorrow.
The Bruins will play host to third-seeded Mount Carmel. Top-seeded Lutheran will play host to Towson Catholic or Beth Tfiloh (the fourth seed) tomorrow with the winners advancing to the conference title game Sunday at Essex Community College at 2 p.m.
Lutheran (8-1-1, 6-1-1), which had an eight-game win streak end with this loss, seemed flat from the start. Park dominated play early and used goals from D'Anna and Reed for a 2-0 halftime lead.
The Bruins had numerous chances in the first half, controlling play for over half of the session. When D'Anna scored in the 17th minute with an assist from Jon McIntyre, Lutheran had just taken its first shot.
Park got the key goal in the 26th minute. Nathan Gorham sent a pass to Reed, who put a 10-yard, left-footed shot inside the far post.
Fruman made it 3-0 midway through the second half with a blistering shot from the edge of the box. Jason Hewitt put Lutheran on the scoreboard with 14:21 left, but the day belonged to Park.
Park also used a big game from Snyder. This was his first start in goal this season, as he happens to be the team's leading scorer. Park coach Lucky Mallonee put him in goal for this game, and Snyder made 12 of his 15 saves in a second half that saw the Saints put lots of pressure on Park.
"There was a lot more riding on this game for us than for them," said Mallonee. "We were hustling. I thought the score should have been 4-0 at halftime."
Four-goal leads have been the norm for Lutheran. The Saints posted six shutouts and, other than a one-goal victory over Mount Carmel and a two-goal defeat of Park, they spent much of the season routing opponents.
Lutheran relies heavily on balance at both ends of the field. Hewitt and Damian Valentine pace the Saints' offense. Valentine, a strong passer and shooter, draws lots of attention from opposing defenses. Hewitt, the team's top scorer, often hooks up with Valentine (number two).
Jon Fishel, Tim Huber, Matt Duggins and Matt Amendt lead the stingy defense. The three goals Park put on the board was the most another team scored all season.
"They play as a team most of the time," said Lutheran coach Bob Malzahn. "We can play up and down the field."
For this game, however, Lutheran players admitted they may have looked past the Bruins.
"They came out a lot stronger than we did," said Duggins. "We came off of [eight] wins in a row. We've [been] blowing teams away."