Thunder storms into girls final


LEWISTON, N.Y. -- The record will show that Tamika Gray and Kendra Powell scored the goals that gave the Chesapeake Bay Thunder a 2-1 decision over the Cold Spring Harbor/Huntington (N.Y.) Thumpers yesterday in a U.S. Youth Soccer Region I girls under-18 semifinal at Lewiston Porter Sports Complex.

If it weren't for the goalkeeping of Kate Szper, however, the Thunder would not be playing the Wilton (Conn.) Speed this morning for the regional crown.

"Kate did so great. It was breathtaking to see her play," said Gray of Szper, who recorded 24 saves, several of them difficult chances. "We'd be going home. Defense and Kate were the keys today."

Two other Baltimore-area teams advanced to today's championship round. David Kozak's goal proved the difference as the Arundel Top Guns edged the Spirit of Massachusetts, 1-0, in a boys U-15 semifinal and will face Oakwood (Conn.) for the title.

The Columbia City United defused the Council Rock (Pa.) Dynamo, 2-1, in a boys U-16 semi and meet the Braddock Road American Eagles White for the championship.

All boys and girls regional champs in the U-16, U-17, U-18 and U-19 age brackets qualify for the USYS national tournament July 27-30 in West Palm Beach, N.Y.

Gray gave the Thunder the lead for good in the 15th minute, taking a cross from Laurie Schwoy in the top left of the penalty area before launching a shot into the upper far corner.

Then Szper went to work. Her saves included stretching dives to each post and three sliding stops at point-blank range.

"I don't know what happened. It wasn't planned this way," said Szper, a Dulaney High graduate who will attend Widener College. "It was a big adrenalin rush. My hands are still shaking. I just kept telling myself I wanted the shutout."

Other Maryland semifinal scores

Boys -- U-17: Richmond (Va.) Capitals 2, Columbia Darby 1. U-13: Beadling (Pa.) 1, S.C.B. Welle McComas 1 (Beadling wins on penalty kicks). U-12: West End (N.J.) Warriors 3, Columbia Strikers 2.

Girls -- U-12: MSI Falcons (Montgomery County) 2, Council Rock (Pa.) Blast 2 (MSI wins on penalty kicks).

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