During halftime of his team’s state playoff match with Poly, North Harford boys’ soccer coach Matt Johnstone wasn’t sure if Hawks wanted to extend their season. Despite leading, North Harford left several opportunities go to waste.

“I want to go to the region semifinals,” Johnstone told his squad.

The Hawks followed through in the second half, finishing off Poly, 4-0, in Class 3A North Region quarterfinal action. Johnstone and the Hawks get to go the region semis, where they’ll play at No. 16 Hereford Friday at 3:30 p.m.

 “They just want to keep playing,” said Johnstone, whose team improved its overall mark to 8-6-2.

 Senior midfielder Tyler Miller scored twice for the Hawks, and Brooks Billings and Ben Leiss tallied second half goals.

“We needed to play strong and physical, and play quicker and get the ball off our feet,” said Billings, a sophomore defender. “That’s what we did in the second half and it proved with three goals.”

In the 50th minute, Miller sent a high cross that deflected off the outstretched hand of Poly goalie Joseph Weinstein-Avery into the net.

“I was looking for more of a cross than actual shot. I saw Ben up top and said ‘ok, I’ll try to chip it onto his head. I guess it took with the wind and tipped off the goalie’s hand. A goal is goal I guess.”

“We’ve been preaching to get it outside to him,” said Johnstone. “They finally did it and we got two goals.”

Leiss hustled through a pair of Poly defenders, slid and just got the ball by an oncoming Weinstein-Avery, extending the Hawks’ lead to 3-0 in the 60th minute. Adam Monticello sent a free kick towards the goal. The ball deflected off a group of players and Billings knocked the loose ball in the net.

“We weren’t flat-footed and came out on our toes, ready to go,” said Leiss. “We want this, we want to go far.”

Adam Monticello, Avi  SteinersoulAbout a couple of minutes into the game, Randy Foster’s intended cross wound up a shot on goal, and Weinstein-Avery deflected the ball off to his left. Miller, the intended target for the cross, got the ball and shot it back in.

Later in the half, Miller sent a shot that went wide by less than a foot. The Hawks a couple of loose balls in front of the goal they couldn’t push through.

“We had three good chances we didn’t connect with,” said Johnstone.

Poly didn’t mount any serious scoring opportunities as the Baltimore City school finished with a third straight loss after a 8-1-1 start. Engineers coach Scott Miller said his team couldn’t match North Harford’s work rate.

“There were no phenomenal players but they were solid, played hard and ran hard for 80 minutes,” said Miller, whose team was runner-up to Patterson in the Baltimore City league. “These guys [Poly] can dribble and shoot, but when you face a team that’s solid, it’s a lot harder. They got caught young.”

The Hawks head to Parkton for a second match with the Bulls, who reached the Class 3A state finals a year ago. Hereford posted a 3-0 decision over North Harford early September.

“This is one of the better teams we’ve had in a couple of years,” said Miller. “Hereford is a stronger team, but we can play with them.”



North Harford 4, Poly 0
North Harford134
NH-Miller 2, Leiss, Billings.
NH-Brooks 2, Shaughnessy 2; P-Weinstein-Avery 9.