After 88 minutes of scoreless play in yesterday's season opener against No. 6 Mount Hebron, the cramps in Fallston midfielder Darren Twanmoh's legs almost forced him to the sideline.
However, the junior had been attacking the Vikings' goal for much of the game and he did not want to take a chance on missing an opportunity to take down the defending 3A state champions.
Twanmoh's resilience paid off as his shot from just inside the penalty area found the upper far corner of the net with 2:38 left in the first overtime to give the No. 4 Cougars a 1-0 victory.
"I was cramping, but that ball was there and I had to get it in," Twanmoh said. "It feels good to beat the defending state champions."
The two teams offset each other with contrasting styles of play. The Vikings (0-1) like to play long balls to their forwards to create scoring opportunities, whereas the Cougars attempt shorter passes between the midfielders and the forwards to build an attack.
Fallston senior R.J. Bass controlled the defense for the Cougars (1-0), outrunning the Viking forwards to several loose balls. Bass also helped out the offense by sending several balls that split Mount Hebron's defense, but the Cougars could not capitalize during regulation.
"Anytime the ball came over the top, I just hung in the back and tried to support my defense as best as I could," Bass said. "It was a great test to play the state champs in the first game."
Several questions surrounded Fallston coming into the game because they graduated 14 seniors and have only five returning players from last season. The biggest challenge might be finding someone to fill the shoes of Andy Stromberg, the Harford County Player of the Year who controlled their midfield and was a consistent scoring threat.
However, Cougars coach Christopher Hoover said last night's victory is a big step for his inexperienced team.
"They are a really good squad, but we worked really hard over the summer and it pays off, especially when you have to go to overtime to get the first goal," Hoover said. "I thought we got the better end of the play at the end of the first half, and in the second half, we had better opportunities. We just missed them."
Mount Hebron is also dealing with several key losses and needs to find someone to fill the void of last year's Howard County Player of the Year Mike Napolitano, who scored 25 goals and added 11 assists in a stellar senior season. Vikings coach Mike Linsenmeyer said the goal for his team is to develop some of the same firepower as last year, and last night's game will help his team get better.
"Fallston plays hard and smart. It was a great game," Linsenmeyer said. "We had opportunities to score, but they did not go in. They had an opportunity and they won it. We learned a lot from that game, playing such a good team."