On the strength of a 3-1 victory over South in the MVAL Antietam finale, North (8-6, 4-3) carries a three-game winning streak into Thursday’s Maryland Class 3A first-round game at home against Seneca Valley.
Despite the loss, South (1-12-1, 1-6) will try to ride the momentum of a strong performance into its 3A West opener Thursday at Damascus.
“We were a little tired after (Monday), but it was the same for South,” North coach Glen Singer said. “This field is a little narrower and South killed some of the lanes on us. They played hard.”
Ryan Byard scored a pair of goals for the Hubs, one on a penalty kick in the 28th minute that capped a two-goal scoring frenzy in 90 seconds.
South held North scoreless through the first 20 minutes with a strong defensive effort, but the Hubs broke through in the 27th minute when Wesley Wilson broke free on the left side and delivered a shot that slipped off the left hand of South keeper Joe Rohr and barely crossed the goal line.
“Wes created some pressure in the first half, but South did a good job of cutting down the angles,” Singer said.
Moments later, South was guilty of a tackling penalty and Byard made the most of his 1-on-1 effort against Rohr, ripping a shot hard enough that it caromed off Rohr’s hands above his head into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
“I thought we were a little unlucky on that penalty kick,” South coach Ryan Myers said. “Joe made a nice effort. The ball just slid off his hand.”
After Rohr made a nice save on a shot by Wilson in the 37th minute, the Rebels came charging into the scoring column a minute later when North lost control of the ball in its penalty box.
Jonathan DeOliveira and Anthony Owusu were staring down North keeper Max Ober, and DeOliveira scored when he booted one past Ober’s right side.
While South created minimal opportunities for itself in the second half, the Rebels kept North off the board until Byard scored in the 73rd minute, getting to a cross by Yusif Bodirov for a header to the right of Rohr for a 3-1 lead.
“(Byard) makes other players better because he moves the ball, and that allows him to move and create shots,” Singer said.
It was the third straight game in which Byard has scored two goals, while Ober improved his goals-against average to 0.67. Ober faced eight shots by the Rebels and made three saves.
Despite the losses that have set in on the Rebels this year, Myers was still looking on the positive side with his young team.
“We played four games in seven days,” Myers said. “We grew up even more tonight. We defended well up top.”
North got off 15 shots on goal, with Rohr making 12 saves.