In what could very well turn out to be a preview of the Maryland Class AA Region II soccer final, Walter Johnson and Kennedy struggled to a 0-0 double-overtime tie yesterday at Walter Johnson.
It was a brilliantly played defensive match. The teams alternated between short touch passes and long balls in order to neutralize each other. Kennedy (3-1-1) tried to move the ball up the wing, only to find itself caught in a maze of Walter Johnson defenders. The Wildcats, on the other hand, despite a few choice shots on goal, opted to bunch their defenders and clog Kennedy's attack.
Walter Johnson (3-0-2) played without its star midfielder, Carl Kullback, who tore ligaments in his leg last week and may be lost for the season. To make up for his loss, Coach Dave Kelley moved senior forward Chris Schimmel to midfield and inserted junior Robin Smith at forward. Shimmel matched up with Kennedy All-Met midfielder Brett Hofmann and kept Hofmann in check.
"This was one of the best high school games I've seen in a long time," said Kelley, not usually prone to superlatives. "I think today you saw the two best teams go at it, no question."
Entering yesterday's game, Kennedy had scored 17 goals, but had given up seven. Walter Johnson had scored only three.
"I've always thought you've got to keep the other team out of your goal first, and then try to work on scoring second," said Kelley. "Unfortunately, this team has taken that theory a little too far."
Kennedy's midfield of junior Jono Halverson, senior Bruce Tetreault, combined with senior fullbacks Paul Himmelfarb, Brendon Curvey and Mike DeMino, was able to keep the Wildcats completely in check. However, the Wildcats' group of juniors Steve Register and Ted Ricciardella and seniors Mike Williams and Faris Hitti were just as potent.
"Their defense played brilliantly," said DeMino. "They were going to the ball quickly and winning it and no one is going to beat you if you win the ball."
"It really got frustrating out there after a while," said Tetreault. "Everything we did, they would counter with a long ball. They didn't play it by the book, but they definitely played it tough."