The Patapsco boys soccer team was written off practically before the season started.
The once-proud program didn’t have enough players to field a junior varsity team. And it started the season 0-4, getting whipped in two games at the Bel Air tournament and losing 5-0 at home to Sparrows Point.
Now, after two playoff wins that have stretched its winning streak to seven games, Patapsco is one win away from the state quarterfinal round.
The Patriots defeated visiting Aberdeen 2-0 in the first round of the Class 3A North Region tournament, then knocked off top-seeded Kenwood in overtime on Friday, 3-2.
Johnathon Solis scored the winning goal in overtime, off an assist from Diego Placido.
Gabe Shifflett gave Patapsco a 1-0 lead in the first half, and Ryan Baxter put Patapsco ahead 2-1 in the second half.
Each time, the Bluebirds came back to tie the score.
“We started the season knowing teams like Bel Air, Fallston and Sparrows Point were going to be extremely difficult for us,” Patapsco coach Larry Fulton said. “Along the way, we lost a couple of games to teams I honestly thought we would get wins against.”
Losses to Loch Raven, Owings Mills and Parkville dropped Patapsco to 2-7. The Parkville loss, on Oct 1. was the last defeat for the Patriots.
Patapsco’s streak started with an 8-0 win over Carver A&T on Oct. 3. The Patriots then beat Pikesville, Dulaney, Chesapeake and Dundalk.
(The Dulaney game was technically a scrimmage and did not count, as it was added after the schedule deadline.)
“We started to turn some things around when we changed to a formation focused more on team shape/team defense,” Fulton said. “This helped us limit defensive errors and helped limit our opponent’s ability to create chances.
“This was a conscious decision knowing we would create less chances going forward, and would leave our strikers on an island chasing our opponent’s defenders. It was a risk but we needed to change something, and it’s worked for our last seven games.”
Against Aberdeen, Shiflett scored off an assist from Solid early in the game, and Alec Britton scored off an assist from Placido in the second half.
Getting to the state quarterfinal round, when the remaining eight teams will be re-seeded, won’t be easy.
Patapaco will have to win at C. Milton Wright. The game was played on Tuesday after The eagle went to press.
“The boys seem to be having more fun and team chemistry has improved greatly,” Fulton said. “We have played C. Milton Wright many times in the regional tournament and have never beat them during my tenure at Patapsco.”
Sparrows Point (8-4-1) advanced to the third round of the Class 2A North Region tournament with wins over Patterson,2-0, and Overlea 7-0.
The Pointers were to play Eastern Tech (11-2) on Tuesday after The Eagle went to press, with the winner advancing to the state quarterfinal round.
Dundalk (3-7-1) lost at Bel Air 1-0 in the first round of the Class 3A North Region tournament.