Soccer is called “the beautiful game.”

There is also a lot of pain within that beauty. It’s a sport where one team can have the better of play and still lose.

A bad clear. A ricochet off the post. A goalie’s finger tip changing the direction of what appeared to be a sure goal.

There are hundreds of ways “the beautiful game,” can swiftly kick someone in the gut.

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The fourth-ranked Severna Park High boys soccer team likely will spend the days leading up to Thanksgiving agonizing over Saturday night’s 1-0 loss to Prince George’s County’s Bowie in the Class 4A state title match at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex.

“It’s a cruel game,” said Falcons coach Ryan Parisi, whose team finished 17-3. “The ball doesn’t always bounce the way you want it to.”

Just like in the 38th minute when Brad Dulin’s free kick into the box turned into a series of headers between the teams. Eneko Allen put another up and teammate Allen Simpkins, with his back to the goal, headed the ball over Bowie’s goalie Ronaldo Sosa.

The ball bounced towards the goal line, but Bulldog midfielder Kaden Greene was there to kick it away.

The Falcons were stunned a couple of minutes into the second half. Shane Lopez-Haddia passed the ball to Kareem Davis about five yards outside of the box.

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Davis, who had two Severna Park players around him, quickly turned and sent a right-footed strike into the upper corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead.

In the 48th minute, Sosa came out of the goal to play a long ball. The ball bounced off the netminder as he collided with Falcon midfielder Jeffrey Chukwu.

David Balogun got to the loose ball, but his shot to the goal was headed back out by Bowie defender Jan Hernandez.

More frustration was to come for the Falcons. After a save by senior goalie Peter Saunders, Severna Park advanced the ball. The ball deflected off of Andrew Campbell, and Dulin quickly got it and passed to a streaking Campbell.

Sosa came out to confront Campbell in the box. He went down and got the ball off Campbell’s foot.

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“Just mishit it,” said Campbell, who went down onto the turf after the play. “He had a good save.”

Severna Park boys soccer players Gavin Simpkins (front) and Andrew Handen are congratulated by classmates after Saturday' night's Class 4A state championship game. The fourth-ranked Falcons dropped a 1-0 decision to Prince George's County's Bowie at Loyola University's Ridley Athletic Complex. (Derek Toney)

Campbell got another opportunity in the 75th minute, but his left-footed lazer sailed over the goal. The Falcons got one final opportunity with a free kick with under a minute left.

The ball was headed back out and Braden van den Berg. His slightly off-balanced right-footed shot sailed wide with 30 seconds remaining.

When the clock hit zero, van den Berg went to the large L logo at center of the Ridley turf and sat in disbelief as Bowie (16-2) celebrated its first state championship since 2011.

Severna Park last won a state title in 2013. The Falcons lost to eventual state champ Northwestern from Prince George’s County in last year’s 4A state semifinals.

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Parisi, who had modest expectations entering the fall, was proud of what the Falcons accomplished.

Despite falling a goal short.

“1-0 is the game of soccer,” Parisi said. “…They all hurt the same.”


at Loyola University/Ridley Athletic Complex

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Bowie 0 1 - 1

Severna Park 0 0 - 0

Goal: Bowie - Kareem Davis

Saves: Bowie - Ronaldo Sosa 2; Severna Park - Peter Saunders 3

Derek Toney is content editor of Varsity Sports Network, a high school sports news network that became part of The Baltimore Banner in August 2022.

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