No-name Knights rise to rout big-name Cougars


Unbelievable, North County at Annapolis 5 o'clock in the boys soccer playoffs tonight? But it's true.

North County 6, Chesapeake 3 -- 4A East Region boys soccer playoffs Monday night. Yes, the no-names upset the big names.

"It was quite a shock, but give most of the credit to North County. They were outstanding in the second half and kept constant pressure on us," said Chesapeake coach Earl Eckhardt.

"Our kids were devastated. I almost had to carry them off the field. It just goes to show on any given day. . ."

Chesapeake (13-1), the Anne Arundel County champion, was ranked No. 2 by the Baltimore Sun and No. 15 nationally in USA Today. Among the Cougars' 13 wins was a 4-0 regular-season victory over the Knights.

Chesapeake had four players named to the Coaches All-County first team in Ryan Frommelt, Rich Kuhn, Saul Pollack and goalie Phil Demske, and two more on second team in Brad Tepper and Dustin Clift with Jim Hart, an honorable mention.

North County had no first-teamers, one second-teamer and an honorable mention.

"Nobody expected us to win, nobody except our kids. There were no reporters there because everybody thought they would win easy," said Mike St. Martin, who is in his second year as head coach and once played for powerful Calvert Hall.

"I thought we were preparing for a football game. The kids scouted them on their own [at the county championship game won by Chesapeake 3-2 over Severna Park in double-overtime Oct. 24], watched film and talked all week. Monday we watched the film of the game from Friday."

North County (6-5-2) and Chesapeake played about 31 minutes of the first half before lightning and a tornado watch stopped play Friday evening with the score knotted at 1.

St. Martin called a 4 p.m. meeting Monday to go over Friday's film. The session over team dinner gave the Knights the edge they were looking for.

"When we left to go to Chesapeake Monday, the kids believed they could win and everything came together. Even when they got up on us 2-1 near the end of the first half, we believed we could come back," said St. Martin.

Assistant coach Brian Love said the Knights traveled to Lake Shore armed with "a couple, new set plays and a double sweeper" to counteract the Cougar offense.

The Knights exploded for five second-half goals to only one by the Cougars with sophomore Chad Farley scoring two in a row to put them on their way at 4-3.

"I don't ever remember seeing that kid Farley before, but he was something," said Eckhardt.

Farley played little in the regular-season meeting between the two because of a serious knee injury that almost sidelined him for the season.

"Doctors said he might be out for the season, but Chad gradually came back and is not as quick as he was, because he was super fast, but he played great Monday," said Love.

Eckhardt also had not seen the double sweeper tactic with senior Steve Thomas and sophomore Melvin Jones and it helped keep the Cougars in check along with Jones' twin brother, Shawn, in the cage. Shawn Jones rejected 12 Chesapeake shots.

"And I can't say enough about fullback Bobby Kulp, who is one of our captains," said St. Martin. "He holds our defense together and has all year. We had him mark Frommelt or Kuhn and Bobby was outstanding. I'm disappointed he didn't get something on the coaches All-County team."

Frommelt, who had two goals in the county championship victory over Severna Park, is still hobbled by a pulled hamstring and knee injury, and did not score. Kuhn managed to score two goals, but couldn't get enough help to match the firepower of the Knights.

Senior tri-captain Danny Zvorka, All-County second team by the coaches, scored two goals and had an assist. The other captain, senior Joe Hizon and junior Sonio Proserpi (coaches honorable mention) notched the other goals.

North County also started three freshmen -- left fullback Jason Fox, midfielder Justin Bates and stopper Josh Biller, who were cited by St. Martin for their solid play.

While Eckhardt's team "might have left" its best game on the field Tuesday in the county final and "had to come back a couple days later in the playoffs," North County played its best game Monday.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad