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Towson boys soccer claims 3-1 in over Perry Hall to claim Baltimore County, complete 7-0 season

When it was finally assured at the start of March that its season was a go, the Towson boys soccer team was determined to make the absolute most of the opportunity.

The regular-season schedule was reduced to six games and there would be no state tournament, but that was fine with the Generals. It certainly looked that way Friday, shortly after they knocked off stubborn rival Perry Hall to claim a 3-1 home win and the Baltimore County championship.

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After freshman forward Jackson Kanzler scored two second-half goals — including the game winner that came with 17 minutes left and five minutes after the Gators had tied the game — and immediately following senior goalie Caeden Fong made his final save of a stellar four-year career, the Generals celebrated heartedly.

This season was for sure a different one for the Generals and closing with a 7-0 mark — scoring 18 goals and allowing just three — they maxed out on the chance.

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“This is really special,” said Fong, a William & Mary commit who finished with seven saves Friday. “To be able to come out and play a season when we didn’t even think we were going to have one, it’s great. Obviously, people were worried about the state championship and the other stuff, but this means more to us. We’re just so happy that we’re here and we wouldn’t want to have done it any other way I think.”

There was clear separation with Towson and Perry Hall (5-2) from the rest of the Baltimore County field this season, but little separation between each other.

In the regular-season finale Tuesday, with both teams undefeated, the Generals got a goal from defender Riley Wagner with eight minutes left to claim a 1-0 win and earn the top seed.

After neither team was able to finish a number of scoring chances in a scoreless first half, the Generals were first to break through 12 minutes into the second when senior midfielder Pearson Benassi (one goal, one assist) was stationed at the far post and alertly headed home a ball served in by Nate Hochrein for a 1-0 lead.

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But the Gators weren’t deterred against the Generals stingy defense and did well to earn the tying goal with 16:56 to play. Senior captain Noe Kabre made a strong run with the ball to win the left side and played a firm ball to the middle for Brennan Eibner, who one-timed a soft shot that spun inside the top far corner.

The Generals could have responded a number of ways after seeing their lead gone and chose to be persistent. All season, one of their strengths has been on set pieces and a perfectly executed corner kick helped bring home the championship.

Benassi played a shot to the near post that Kansler got to first, heading it inside the same post for a 2-1 lead with 16:56 left. He added an insurance goal five minutes later on Hochrien’s second assist.

Towson assistant coach Michael Constantine — filling in for head coach Randy Dase who was tending to family matters — said the Generals showed who they were in their response to the Gators tying goal.

“Mentally, it’s really difficult, especially when you’re playing a team as tough as Perry Hall,” “[Gators coach] Pete Eibner has those guys well trained. They’re very athletic, very aggressive and to tie the game up like that, you think the momentum is going to go in their favor, but I’ll give our guys a ton of credit — they are tough.”

“We knew it was a tough group coming in, but to go 7-0 on the season and only give up three goals — it’s unbelievable. It’s speaks volumes to the mental strength of the group as a whole. They are very together and I’m just really proud of them.”

Kanzler was just happy to be part of the fun and excited to do more than his share.

“It was tied 1-1 and I just felt we had to get some momentum going,” he said “So I got the first one and I was excited about it and the second one came. It’s surreal because I’m only a freshman — so my freshman year and we’re county champions. It’s a great feeling.”

Despite the setback, the Gators also got plenty of mileage from their season, scoring 18 goals and allowing five. Both losses and four of the goals came this week against Towson, but there was more gained than lost. Coach Eibner was quick to take his hat off to Towson’s performance and also proud of his team.

“We had a great group of guys that were very talented and hard working — one of most pleasurable groups that I’ve had the chance to coach in my 10 years here. They’re brothers and work hard for one another and never quit,” he said.

Goals: PH — Eibner; T — Benassi, Kanzler 2. Assists: PH — Kabre; T Hochrein 2, Benassi. Saves: PH — Gurung 2, Knox 4; T — C. Fong 7. Half: 0-0

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