A guaranteed good test and some valuable lessons learned always bring Severna Park and Calvert Hall together in the early season.
Yesterday afternoon at Calvert Hall, the host Cardinals continued their near-flawless play in back and got an organized effort from the midfield, but found some uncertainty in their offensive third.
Severna Park, still a work in progress with a largely new cast and some early injuries, came with a strong work rate and showed well in the back, too, a priority of coach Don Gregg this season.
A second-half penalty kick by senior co-captain Jim Fendryk decided the issue as the No. 11 Cardinals came away with a 1-0 win over No. 14 Severna Park.
In improving to 4-0, allowing just one goal so far, the Cardinals simply appeared a little further along than their visitors from Severna Park, which opened its season Tuesday with a 3-0 win over Northeast.
Calvert Hall coach Andy Moore is still looking for the complete game.
"It's still early on and I didn't feel like we were hitting on all gears. We're just not getting the movement needed yet in the final third and not making good decisions up there. We had some nice chances that we have to take advantage of," he said.
The Cardinals dictated play most of the first half and had chances to finish, but the Falcons' defense was always in the way.
Off a late corner kick, senior midfielder Justin Layfield pounded down a header directed for the right corner, but it was cleared away by the defender manning the post. Severna Park senior keeper Dan Korpon, who would finish with nine saves, also had a say with poised play in the goal.
But there was no stopping Fendryk's penalty kick, neatly tucked away in the left corner, in the game's 52nd minute. The penalty was awarded after a Calvert Hall striker was dragged down along the left side of the goal line.
"We're a patchwork team right now. Giving up a goal on a penalty kick is not too bad, just one too many," Gregg said. "Calvert Hall had more of the play. They're technically better than us right now and a little quicker than us."
The Falcons had possession more in the second half and with it came chances to get even.
Josh Bennett and J.P. Murphy both put shots on goal off corner kicks, but Calvert Hall keeper Phil Phillips had them covered. With 10 minutes left, Jesse Weissburg sent a dangerous cross through, but the Calvert Hall defense, led by Fendryk, was able to clear.
"We're playing great in back - allowing only one goal in four games. You've got to feel happy about that. We just have to finish our chances and I think that will eventually come from everywhere," Moore said.