North Carroll began its season yesterday with dreams of a state championship and, quite possibly, enough tools to make such a lofty goal conceivable.
Joppatowne, on the other hand, began its season just four days after the surprise resignation of its coach and with enough freshmen and sophomores to jam a JV roster.
The combination proved fatal for the Mariners, as visiting North Carroll got two goals each from Jesse Gelb and Jose Souto in a 5-2 victory.
Coming off last season's bitter shootout loss to rival South Carroll in the first round of the playoffs, North Carroll (1-0) came out firing, winning the majority of loose balls and outshooting Joppatowne, 25-8.
"Going into a game, that's what you hope will happen," said Panthers coach Denny Snyder. "We gave ourselves plenty of chances to score. I would have liked to have converted a few more of them, but the kids played well, especially for their first game of the season."
For the Mariners (0-1), it was quite the opposite story, especially after Saturday's departure of coach Tim DeAngelo, who without warning resigned to accept a teaching job in New Jersey.
Assistant Tony Reidlbauer, himself a long-time county coach, assumed the lead role yesterday, and said that DeAngelo's departure had little if anything to do with the young team's performance, especially because it was he who had been working most closely with the players in practice.
"I don't think it had any effect," Reidlbauer said. "Fifteen minutes from now, they'll probably forget that we even lost."
The outcome was never in doubt.
North Carroll started quickly, putting pressure on the goal from the opening moments and taking a 1-0 lead 1: 57 into the game on Steve Eafrati's goal following a throw-in by Ian Malcolm and feed from Greg Keller.
"We came out right away and attacked them," said Gelb. "We were outhustling them and beating them to balls."
Said Snyder: "We scored in the first few minutes, and that was definitely one of our goals."
Following the ejection of Panthers fullback Mark Campbell for misconduct, the Mariners briefly sprung to life, coming within inches of tying the game when Greg Gordon's breakaway shot rolled wide right.
Minutes later, however, Gelb extended the lead to 2-0 on a breakaway of his own with about seven minutes left in the half.
Joppatowne looked as if it might make a game of it when it cut the lead to 2-1 just three minutes into the second half on the first of Brian Kretzschmar's two goals -- a penalty kick to the right of goalie Shawn Hampt.
But that was as close as the Mariners would get. North Carroll added another goal by Gelb and two straight by Souto, a Brazilian foreign-exchange student, in the span of 12 minutes to make it 5-1 with 21: 26 to play.
"I think this team has the potential to go a long way," said Gelb of North Carroll.
For Joppatowne, the game was a learning experience.