There was something missing at last night's Chesapeake-Severna Park boys soccer game.
The No. 5 Falcons defeated visiting Chesapeake for the first time in three years, 2-0, but the intensity between the perennial Anne Arundel County powers didn't seem to reach its usual high level.
That's not to take anything away from either team. Severna Park (2-0) played well and got unassisted goals from midfielders junior Warren Kurz and senior Craig Schneider, and a typically superb game by senior goalkeeper Scott McGuire.
Chesapeake did not play badly but couldn't get into any offensive rhythm. Josh Schreiner just missed scoring in the final seconds of the first half, and the Cougars ended up with eight shots to the Falcons' nine.
Senior fullback Addison Pumphrey won his share of balls for the visitors and hustled all over the field.
Chesapeake coach Earl Eckhardt retired at the end of his 16th season last fall, so, of course, he was missing last night.
"Well, Earl wasn't here, so maybe that was the mystique, " said a smiling Don Gregg, Severna Park's veteran coach. "We missed him. One of the kids said it's been three years."
The Falcons last defeated the Cougars in the 1999 Class 4A East Region final.
While Schneider said, "it felt great, been waiting for years" to beat the Cougars, there was no big celebration after ending the skid.
"We put two in on them, which is pretty big," McGuire said.
Chesapeake is starting a new era under Dave Evanco. But Evanco was Eckhardt's top assistant for 12 years, and he said last night that it's pretty much business as usual at the Lake Shore school.
"My practices are a little bit different, but we're trying to do the same kind of things Earl did for years," Evanco said.
"It was a pretty solid effort, but on the technical aspect of the game, we kept playing the ball forward and running forward. We hustled and played as hard as we could, but it just wasn't in the cards."
It could be the match lacked the overall intensity of a Severna Park-Chesapeake meeting because the Falcons moved down to Class 3A last year and won a state championship, while Chesapeake stayed in Class 4A.
That means there will be no Falcons-Cougars clash in the playoffs anymore.
"Honestly, we're as good if not better as last year when we lost to Chesapeake [in the regular season], but we came out and shut 'em out this year," McGuire said.
The teams won't meet in the playoffs, but if each makes it to the county championship game, there's a good chance the intensity will return.