The No. 10 Chesapeake Cougars played well last night against No. 5 Severna Park. They controlled the ball for much of the game, using their speed and exceptional passing ability to create a number of great scoring opportunities.
But the effort of one transplanted Californian superseded it all.
Severna Park goalie Chris Rippel made eight saves, including two in the second half that prevented otherwise certain goals, as the host Falcons defeated the Cougars, 1-0, last night in an Anne Arundel County 4A League game.
It was the third straight shutout posted by the San Diego native, who lowered his goals-against average to 1.00 through seven games. It also marked the first time an opposing team has shut out the potent Cougars (6-2 overall, 6-1 in the league).
"Rippel came up big," said Chesapeake coach Earl Eckhardt. "He made the saves when he had to."
With the game scoreless at halftime, the senior got his first real test 11 minutes into the second half.
Chasing a hard shot by midfielder Andy Dziuban, Rippel dove to his left only to see the ball hit the far post and bounce back in front. In an instant, he jumped back to his feet, ran to the other post and caught the softer follow-up by striker Rich Kuhn.
Severna Park (6-1, 4-0) scored just minutes later.
With 24:08 left in the game, Falcons midfielder Rick Sporrer took a hard shot that rebounded in front, where J. T. Carhart headed it in for his fourth goal of the season.
Said Carhart: "I just saw him coming across. He shot, and the keeper almost had it, but I got my head on it."
But the game was far from over.
Later in the half, Rippel again made a spectacular save, diving to his left to stop a short-range shot by Rob Redmond after a near-perfect corner kick by Shawn Shannon.
"The second half was really intense," said Rippel. "We have the potential to meet them two more times [for the county title and in the state playoffs], and this just gives us a lot of confidence. It's a huge win."
The Falcons strengthened their hold on first place in the league. With Chesapeake on their heels, it seems likely the two could meet again, and neither coach seems to mind the prospects of a rematch.
"This was just two good teams going at it," said Severna Park coach Don Gregg, "but we got the good breaks."
Said Eckhardt: The kids are disappointed with the outcome, but I'm not disappointed with our effort. I'd like to meet them again."