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Belfiore to Appleby sends C. Milton Wright boys soccer to 3-2 playoff win over Bel Air

C. Milton Wright junior forward Ryan Belfiore had already put in some quality work with two goals to help the Mustangs take charge of their region playoff game against Harford County rival Bel Air on Friday.

But after a determined comeback came from the visiting Bobcats, Belfiore had something left for the game’s final minute.

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After nudging past a defender to win the right side, he placed a low, firm ball across for junior teammate Conner Appleby, who buried a shot with 26 seconds left to give No. 4 C. Milton Wright a thrilling 3-2 win over No. 12 Bel Air in the Class 3A North Section II title game. The Mustangs (12-2-2) will next face Towson – a 2-1 winner over Parkville in the Section I title game – for the region crown on Tuesday.

With senior Megan Chun leading the way, River Hill earned a 2-0 win over Wilde Lake on Nov. 3. The Hawks will host Calvert in the 2A South final on Nov. 7.

“All around … we played an awesome game. We capitalized at the end and just got to keep it up,” said Belfiore, who now has nine goals and five assists this season. “Game-winner, one on one with the defender and I was able to slide it across the middle and Conner was there to put it away.”

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Advancing didn’t come easy Friday, but the Mustangs were doing their best to make it look like it would be with a strong first half that carried into the second.

Two minutes into play, the ball was bouncing inside the Bobcats’ penalty area, put there on Brett Lindsey’s long throw in, when Ethan Dolezal sent a short pass across for Belfiore to finish from 14 yards.

Unable to add to their lead in the crisp first half, the Mustangs were able to make it 2-0 with 29:41 to play when Dolezal sent a nifty through ball for Belfiore to score in close.

Bel Air coach Dominic Rose, whose Bobcats lost 2-0 to the Mustangs during the regular season, said a key going into the game would be playing with confidence. Despite being down 2-0, the Bobcats showed they still had it.

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They got one goal back less than 30 seconds later when Ethan Lassen got free on the left side and then began to press for the equalizer. Lassen provided it on a flick on a shot sent in from Nick Felnour with 16 minutes to play.

The Mustangs weathered more pressure, regrouped and Appleby produced the game’s biggest goal, his 13th of the season.

“It was definitely an important goal,” he said. “We did not want the seniors to go home that way. It’s a big rivalry; we love playing them because the competition is always there. It was a great run by Ryan. He set us up perfectly to get the win.”

The Bobcats close out their season with a 10-5 mark.

“At 2-0, we felt if that game would have went four or five more minutes that way, we would have struggled. Getting the goal right after their goal really helped,” Rose said. “We got the momentum and then a beautiful goal by Ethan on the second one. I really thought we had them on their heels there for about 10 minutes, but it was unfortunate at the end.”

Goals: BA – Lassen 2; CMW – Belfiore 2, Appleby

Assists: BA – Felnour; CMW – Dolezal 2, Belfour

Saves: BA – Fiacco 7; Miller 3

Half: CMW, 1-0

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