Kennedy, taking a cue from last year's Maryland Class AA boys soccer state champion Bowie, employed a platoon system to its advantage and defeated Springbrook, 3-1, last night in a Class AA Region II semifinal at Gaithersburg.
Kennedy will meet B-CC in the championship Friday at 7 p.m. at Whitman. B-CC advanced by shutting out Walter Johnson, 1-0. It will be the second meeting between the two teams this season after B-CC defeated Kennedy 2-1 in overtime.
Last year, Kennedy Coach Jeff Schultz was firmly against the platoon system. But after his squad lost to Bowie, 2-1, in the state semifinals, Schultz said his team's fatigue was a major factor in the loss. Ironically, he didn't institute the platoon system until after his team lost to Springbrook, 3-2, in overtime midway through this season.
And last night it paid off nicely. The Cavaliers starters scored two goals within two minutes of returning from a 10-minute rest.
In its loss to Springbrook earlier in the season, Kennedy gave up two goals to Albert Oni. Yesterday, Kennedy fullbacks Mike DeMino and Paul Himmelfarb each covered Oni one half, holding him to just one shot on goal.
The Cavaliers (9-2-2) led 2-0 at halftime as Brett Hofmann headed in a corner kick from Ricky Smedley at 16:36. The game-winning goal came at 32:55 as Ira Balbirer took a pass from Smedley on the right wing and scored inside the far post past goalie Eddie Armenta.
Springbrook (10-3), which lost in the regional semifinal last year to Rockville, made it 2-1 as Jason Elsmore, on an assist from David Sarano, scored at 50:09.
With the momentum apparently being gained by Springbrook, Schultz inserted five substitutes, hoping to slow the game's tempo down. The ploy worked as Kennedy's defense, led by Jono Halverson, was able to frustrate the younger Blue Devils with a long-ball game. The regulars then returned to give Kennedy a little insurance as Balbirer, with an assist by Hofmann, scored his second goal at 64:45.
In the second game, Jose Castedo scored B-CC's only goal 2:31 into the game. But it was the play of goalie Matt Harrell that allowed the Barons to advance to Friday's championship. Harrell, a junior who had never played organized soccer before this year, had 16 saves, including the game-saver with eight minutes remaining.
Damien Obama of Walter Johnson (8-3-2) dribbled in uncontested and drew Harrell out of the box and shot. "I was always taught to shoot for the far post," said Harrell. "So I dove that way and was able to get a hand on the ball."
Harrell knocked the ball out and dove on top of it as a swarm of Wildcats tried to kick it free. The ball was then deflected off Larry McKay out of bounds and B-CC (10-1-2) was able to hold on.
"I was really apprehensive out there," said Harrell. "Everything was so wild and the intensity of the game was so high. But the defense really kept their cool and made the job easier for me."
Dodds Wins Title Michelle Dodds of W.T. Woodson defeated Julie Shiflet of First Colonial in Virginia Beach, 6-3, 6-4, to win the Virginia AAA girls tennis singles title yesterday at Douglass Freeman in Richmond.
In the semifinals earlier in the day, Dodds beat Tiffany Harting of George Washington (Danville), 6-1, 6-4 and Shiflet defeated Midlothian's Shannon Cubitt, 6-1, 6-3.
In doubles, Terri Esterowitz and Renee Bousselaire of Lee advanced to today's 9 a.m. final with a 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 semifinal win over Harting and Robin Haymore of George Washington.