Mount Hebron junior sweeper Zach Barnett has established himself as one of the Washington area's top defenders, but his offensive skills made the biggest impression in the Vikings' 2-1 victory over visiting Severna Park in last night's Maryland 3A East Region quarterfinal in Ellicott City.
Barnett opened the scoring by heading in junior midfielder Mike Napolitano's corner kick in the seventh minute and assisted on the game-winning goal in the 51st minute, delivering a perfectly placed throw-in from the left wing to senior defender Brad Wood, who knocked it into the net.
"Zach came up huge for us," Mount Hebron Coach Mike Linsenmeyer said. "He was all over the field, and he did his job. I think what makes this such a big win for us is that everybody did their job. They completely followed our game plan."
The Vikings (10-3-1) combined an opportunistic offense with a stellar defensive effort. Mount Hebron senior Chris Franczkowski led one of the Vikings' best defensive performances of the season, as he clamped down on Severna Park's Taylor Young, who entered with 13 goals and seven assists.
"I know Taylor very well because we've been on the same Olympic Development Program team for the last three years," Franczkowski said. "But the reason we won is because we played smart soccer, and now we're moving on."
Severna Park, a state finalist last year, finished 9-5-2.
Mount Hebron will face Northeast or top-seeded Fallston, which won the 3A North Region title last year, in the semifinals tomorrow. Other teams in the region include three-time defending state champion River Hill (8-1-1) and second-seeded J.M. Bennett (10-1-1).
"When you look at how many good teams are in this region, it's like the group of death in the World Cup," Severna Park Coach Bob Thomas said. "For some reason, we just haven't been consistent. But we obviously lost this game because Mount Hebron beat us in the midfield, where we were nonexistent."
After Barnett gave Mount Hebron a 1-0 lead, Severna Park countered in the 21st minute on a goal by Patrick Powers.
Mount Hebron dominated the second half, and its pressure paid off when Wood used his right foot to score off Barnett's throw-in.
"A few minutes earlier I had a chance to score in the same situation and I just missed it," Wood said. "I promised myself that if I got that chance again, I'd put it away."