Mount Carmel often controlled play during its game yesterday with Beth Tfiloh. But the Cougars still needed a bit of good timing and a good bounce to help them win the game -- and a championship.
The rebound of a first-half Mount Carmel corner kick bounced right to Greg Maddox, and he put it into the empty net to give the host Cougars a 1-0 victory over Beth Tfiloh in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference championship game yesterday.
For Mount Carmel (7-5-1), this was its first soccer championship since 1989. Beth Tfiloh, which went 1-14 last year, finished the season 8-6. Mount Carmel won two of its three meetings with Beth Tfiloh this season.
Mount Carmel kept the pressure on Beth Tfiloh, which wore black armbands to honor the memory of slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, throughout the game. The Cougars, led by Maddox, Topher Stevenson and Brandon Lookingland, often kept the ball in the Beth Tfiloh end and out-shot the Warriors, 20-7.
But despite all of the shots, the Cougars did not find many good scoring chances. They had just started putting the pressure on when Maddox scored 9:06 into the ballgame.
Stevenson started the game-winning play with a corner kick from the left side. The ball flew near the front of the goal, and Beth Tfiloh goalie Eli Pristoop (nine saves) tried to punch it away.
But the ball hit the crossbar and bounced right to the onrushing Maddox, who scored easily.
"I was rushing the goal," said Maddox. "I was just trying to put it in."
Mount Carmel spent the rest of the game trying to add to its lead, but the Beth Tfiloh defense, led by Ben Rombro and Pristoop, did a good job of limiting the Cougars' chances.
But the Cougars were able to keep possession by repeatedly beating the Warriors to the ball in the open field. Mount Carmel was a little quicker than Beth Tfiloh, and came up with many loose balls.
"If you win the ball, you win the game," said Cougars coach Gary Schneehagen. "It's very simple."
Beth Tfiloh tried to make things more complex. The Warriors came up with several good scoring chances, but were unable to finish any of them.
Jeremy Bob, Beth Tfiloh's center halfback, made a number of good passes to set up teammates throughout the game. Bob and teammate Ian Merles teamed up on a couple of chances inside the box, but could not score.
And Mount Carmel goalie Mike Bentley and his defense helped keep the Warriors scoreless. Although Bentley made only six saves, he made a number of aggressive plays that broke up Beth Tfiloh chances.
Bentley also helped the Cougars clear the ball with his strong punts -- some of which traveled from the Mount Carmel box to the Beth Tfiloh box.
"We had our chances," said Beth Tfiloh coach Glenn Miller. "They showed they were a skilled team, and they wore us down a little bit. They were just a half-step quicker than we were today."