Towson goalie Caeden Fong and the defenders in front of him had to put in a full 80 minutes of hard work against Baltimore County rival Dulaney on Tuesday.
Forward Elijah Alexander helped make it all worthwhile.
The junior got behind the Lions defense with 11 minutes to play in the second half for an extended run with the ball before shooting as soon as he reached the penalty area. It was firm and properly aimed, finding the lower left corner to lift the No. 11 General past the No. 14 Lions, 1-0, at Meadowood Regional Park.
Towson (7-1, 3-1 Baltmore County Division I) handed Dulaney (6-1-1, 3-1) its first loss of the season.
The Lions pressed for much of the first half without capitalizing. The visiting Generals played closer to even terms in the second half and Alexander proved the difference-maker with a united defensive front taking care of the other end. Fong finished with seven saves, getting his fingertips on a couple shots and reacting quickly on Justin White’s chance right in front minutes after the Generals took the lead.
Alexander, a junior who comes of the bench, was just happy to make an impact.
“I just always have to give my heart and gut,” he said. “To be honest, I’m not the most-skilled player so I have to go out there and work hard. I came up with the goal and we came out with the victory, and it was great because it’s probably the biggest game of the season so far with them being our big rivals.”
The Lions were dangerous early led by forwards Justin White, Greg Borisov and Ashton Brown. But despite a couple runs, some free kicks and corner kicks, and consistently having the ball in their offensive third, they couldn’t break through the Generals’ tidy back line in the first half.
Better midfield play in the second half and converting on one of their few chances proved the difference for the Generals with a through ball from Sean Mathias getting past a Dulaney midfielder to connect with Alexander.
The Generals defense was at its best in protecting the advantage and Fong made sure to name each of his four backs — Sean Christensen, Will Derbyshire, Nicholas Miller and Riley Wagner — for logging the quality minutes in Tuesday’s excessive heat.
“It felt like today wasn’t really our day, but we pulled it out at the end. We had a lot of grit and we were able to grind it out. I’m really glad my defense was able to lock it down,” Fong said.
The Lions, who got four saves from goalie Connor Culp, will work on bringing more precision to the final third. Coach Danny Skelton was pleased to see his most dangerous players with the ball in good spots, but disappointed in the ability to finish chances.
“I saw a lot of good stuff from us,” he said. “When you look at the game as a whole, massive chunks we had control. I think there were a lot of times where it looked like we were going to finally break the deadlock and be the ones to take the lead. But what happened today is the reason you love soccer and the reason you hate soccer. You got to take your chances and if you don’t, there’s always enough quality on the other side to hurt you.”
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Goals: T - Alexander. Assists: T - Mathias. Saves: T – Fong 7; D – C. Culp 4. Half: 0-0