River Hill's mastery of Mount Hebron in boys' soccer continued last night in Clarksville -- but only by a matter of inches.

Senior midfielder Tyler Meade scored off a pass from sophomore forward Matt Fountain in the 73rd minute to lift the third-ranked Hawks to a 1-0 home victory over the Vikings in a matchup of two of the best teams in Howard County.

It was the Hawks' seventh consecutive victory over the Vikings dating from the start of the 2001 season. But it was only secured after Mount Hebron junior forward Justin Martinelli's shot hit the crossbar and junior midfielder Zach Barnett's rebound was saved by River Hill senior goalkeeper Matt Moss with less than five minutes remaining.

"I think it came down to us having a little bit better players," Meade said. "We had a chance to get a goal, and we made the most of the opportunity."

River Hill senior defender Matt Stara threw the ball in to Fountain, who took three dribbles before lofting a crossing pass from the right side. Meade, the team's top striker, met the ball in perfect stride, using his left foot to volley it into the lower-right corner past diving senior goalkeeper Ryan Kreh.

The victory gives three-time Maryland 3A champion River Hill (7-1-1, 6-1) the inside track at securing the second seed behind undefeated Fallston in the 3A East Region tournament, which begins next week.

Mount Hebron (8-3-1, 5-2-1) could meet River Hill again in the region tournament, just as it did last year. River Hill won that meeting, 2-1, in the 3A East semifinals.

"I think we're getting closer against River Hill," Mount Hebron Coach Mike Linsenmeyer said. "But right now it's the same old story. We came close this time but we hit the crossbar, and we're used to things like that happening."

Tyler Meade, who scored in the 73rd minute, tries to get past Mount Hebron's Brad Wood, left, and Marc White in River Hill's narrow win.