Huntingtown 3,

Great Mills 0

More than a few thoughts passed through Matt Deacon's head in the split second it took for the ball to go from the right foot of Great Mills's Stanley Pajak to Deacon's torso.

He thought about which way to lean, which way to jump, which way to dive to thwart the breakaway. Above all, Deacon, the Huntingtown goalie, thought about how the Maryland 3A South quarterfinal would turn if Pajak's shot got past him.

"It's a different game if I don't get my hands on that," he said.

Deacon pivoted his chest to deflect the shot and preserve Huntingtown's one-goal lead in the 50th minute. Less than a minute later, his goal kick found Hurricanes senior Keith Bustin just past midfield. A few dribbles gave way to a perfect 35-yard shot to the far corner of the goal that deflated the Hornets and sent Huntingtown to a 3-0 victory, the first postseason triumph for the two-year-old program.

Huntingtown (10-5) will visit Northern (11-4-1) in a regional semifinal tomorrow. The Hurricanes won the teams' only regular season meeting, 4-2, on Sept. 16.

"It just gives us such a great morale boost," said senior striker A.J. Sweeney, who assisted on Huntingtown's first goal and scored its last. "Last year, we lost in the first round, so it's big to get a win here."

Great Mills (5-8-1), which had won one game the previous three seasons, entered Tuesday's game having won three in a row. But the Hornets' regular season finale against Lackey, which was postponed twice, was ultimately cancelled. As a result, Great Mills took the field at Huntingtown having not played since Oct. 19.

"We should have been better than what we were, but we didn't play for 21/2 weeks," Great Mills Coach Bret Weaver said. "You take that away from a team on a roll, and you're going to come out flat."

In the 29th minute, Great Mills junior goalkeeper John Ironmonger turned away Sweeney on a 40-yard free kick and Bustin on the rebound in front. But four minutes later, Sweeney's corner kick found the far side, where senior Spencer Houchens waited to punch it in and open the scoring.

Neither team had a solid opportunity until the 50th minute, when Great Mills senior Garret Shade lofted a feed to Pajak in the middle from about 25 yards away. After a couple of dribbles, Pajak fired the shot that Deacon turned aside and senior Jason Payne was able to knock out of bounds.

Shortly thereafter, Bustin's goal made it 2-0, and the outcome was practically sealed. Sweeney capped the scoring in the 71st minute with a goal from the middle into the right corner.

"That easily could have broken the game down for us," Sweeney said. "But Deacon's been making those saves for us all season. After that, you saw them put their heads down. It crushed them."

Huntingtown's Keith Bustin watches his shot after it got by Great Mills's Kurt Kebaugh, center, and John Ironmonger.