HAGERSTOWN -- Jason Gotis has a flip throw-in that turned into an offensive weapon for Oakland Mills last night.
It set up the only goal of the game as the No. 7 Howard County school (14-2) dealt No. 4 North Harford (14-1-1) its first loss of the season in the state Class 2A soccer semifinals at South Hagerstown High School.
The Scorpions will face Middletown, which defeated Stephen Decatur, 4-1, for the state title.
"The main object is to get the ball deep," Gotis said of his throw. "It is to work to our advantage, either setting up scoring chances or corners."
The two sides were locked in a scoreless tie inside of the final nine minutes, when Gotis launched one of his flip throws.
The ball carried some 35 yards, nearly to the goal mouth. Teammate Mike Jenkins got a foot on it and kicked the ball past outstretched goalkeeper David Zorn.
"I saw the ball coming," Jenkins said. "I think it hit one of their defenders, and it bounced right to me. I just kicked it as hard as I could."
Until that moment, there were only a couple of scoring chances for each team. However, with Oakland Mills' speed and ability to play the ball well in the air, it generated more excitement, especially on offense.
The best chance either side had before the goal also had come off a Gotis throw-in about 10 minutes earlier. From deep in the corner, the ball carried to the goal where a teammate got a head on it. Zorn deflected the ball, it hit the goal post and caromed out, where a defender booted it away.
Later, one of the officials, who was standing on the far side of the goal line, said he could see the ball clearly, as it hit the post and bounced off, never crossing the line.
"All year long we've been playing for respect," Oakland Mills coach Don Shea said. "A preseason preview said the talent that had produced seven state championships had dried up, I guess because our last one was in 1990. At one time, we were the only county team not ranked."
With something to prove, the Scorpions went on to lose only to No. 1 Centennial, 1-0, and Loyola, 2-1.
"We knew about North Harford, with Zorn and [senior Keith] Smith. We had beaten them each of the last two years during the regular season, 4-3, and 2-1," Shea said.
"I thought both teams played good games," North Harford coach Ed Zorn said. "In the first half, I thought we were a little timid, but once we realized we could play with them, we had our opportunities."