Facing what amounted to its toughest county test of the season to date, Marriotts Ridge got a goal and two assists from Nick Applegate and outlasted Mt. Hebron, 3-1, on the road Tuesday.
In a game that was played pretty evenly in the midfield, Mt. Hebron (4-4 county, 7-4 overall) actually outshot the visiting Mustangs (8-0, 9-0). But Marriotts Ridge’s proficiency on set pieces and play in crunch time was just a little too much for the Vikings to overcome.
“We had a hard time keeping them from getting the ball and they won a lot of the battles in the middle of the field. It took us out of our game a little bit,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Kevin Flynn. “That said, getting a result when you’re not at your best is very important and today we did enough to win. Good teams find a way.”
Mt. Hebron never held the lead, although did find itself tied or within a goal of the Mustangs for the majority of the game.
“They are obviously a very good team and we just couldn’t get over the hump,” Mt. Hebron coach Mike Linsenmeyer said. “We had chances, didn’t put them away, and they finished a few more than we did.”
Applegate, who had a hand in all three of Marriotts Ridge’s scores, was the catalyst for the Mustangs on offense all night. The senior forward was responsible for setting up Amir Najib for the game’s first goal off a free kick with 6:20 remaining in the first half.
It was still 1-0 10 minutes into the second half when Mt. Hebron’s Emmanuel Wright found himself one-on-one with Mustang goalie Ryan Miller (7 saves). Wright’s hard shot appeared headed just under the crossbar when Miller leaped in the air and got his hands on the ball.
Two minutes later, riding the momentum of that save, Marriotts Ridge upped its lead to two courtesy of a header by Connor Delaney off a long throw by Applegate.
“It was a huge save and then for us to get the goal a few minutes afterward, that was a big momentum swing in the game,” Flynn said. “You’re talking going from a 1-1 tie to a 2-0 lead. Ryan’s getting better and better every week. He seems to really be growing into the position.”
Mt. Hebron didn’t lie down, breaking through courtesy of Andrew Tucker’s transition goal with 10 minutes left in regulation. It was the first goal surrendered by the Mustangs against a county opponent this season.
But before the Vikings could get the equalizer, Applegate sealed the game off a feed from Brad Martinelli. The score, with 5:45 on the clock, created the final 3-1 margin.
Despite the loss, Linsenmeyer says his guys showed some real progress.
“The team really is heading in the right direction,” Linsenmeyer said. “We are starting to play like you have to play if you are going to win in the playoffs.”
Marriotts Ridge 3, Mt. Hebron 1
Goals: MR – Applegate, Delaney, Najib; MH – Tucker.
Assists: MR – Applegate 2, Martinelli.
Saves: MR – Miller 7; MH – Buris 5.
Half: 1-0 MR.
River Hill 3, Howard 0