For a couple minutes after Westminster tied Liberty, 1-1, in the 47th minute in Eldersburg last night, players for both teams must have recalled the Owls' second-half comeback for a 2-1 win in last fall's game between the two.
Forget deja vu.
Liberty, which saw one of its few defensive errors turn into that tying goal, scarcely blinked. The Lions (2-2-0 overall, 2-0-0 county) immediately took play back from the Owls, controlled the next 10 minutes and then, within two minutes, put away their second Carroll County victory in as many days, 3-1.
"Needless to say, this was our finest-played game all season," said Liberty coach Ed DeVincent, who had high praise for his midfielders. "We think of defense first and then worry about our offense. We moved the ball well."
Said Westminster coach Mick Ferraro, who had been hoping for more productivity out of set pieces but didn't get it: "Their second goal was just a killer."
Outstanding individual efforts on that goal by senior forward Mike Bowers in the 57th minute and, two minutes later, by sophomore forward Brandon Franklin sealed the Lions' win.
Those goals, that is, plus cloying, defensive-midfield work that never let Westminster mount more of an offense than occasional long passes toward sprinting -- but always outnumbered -- forwards.
Bowers, the county's leading scorer a year ago, settled a deflected ball at midfield and took off, leaving one defender behind early as he raced nearly 40 yards before a second defender barely touched the ball away from him at the top left of Westminster's penalty box.
Within another step toward the middle, though, Bowers regained possession and fired home his third goal this season from about 12 yards.
Franklin, whose speed and moves gave Westminster defenders problems all night on the mist-slick field, lost a ball deep on the left side of the Owls' box while taking on a defender.
But in a flurry of feet, he recaptured it and, from about 10 yards, whipped a low, severely angled shot past the near post and into the far wall of the net.
Liberty had taken this game away from the Owls (1-3-1, 0-1-1) much earlier, however, with senior defender Jeff Hagood heading in the game's first goal just three minutes in off a senior forward Joe Fioriani's long throw-in from the left sideline.
The Owls didn't get their first shot until the 24th minute, when senior midfielder Chad Kinney's try off a corner kick was scuttled by Liberty goalkeeper Kevin Schriner's kick save in traffic. Their next attempt was junior midfielder Joe Geiman's right-to-left, tying goal from the right side, off a touch from Kinney.
Pub Date: 9/29/99