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Marriotts Ridge's Martinelli cements legacy in boys soccer

In the world of Howard County boys soccer, the Martinelli name holds quite a bit of clout. Justin, the oldest of four Martinelli brothers, was a first-team all-county player who registered more than 70 career points and helped Mt. Hebron win a state title his senior year in 2006. Phil, the next oldest, recorded more than 80 career points and was named Player of the Year as a senior in 2008. Bryan, who graduated in 2011, wasn't a prolific scorer but was a member of two state championship teams at Marriotts Ridge.

So naturally, when Brad, the youngest of the Martinelli brothers, arrived at Marriotts Ridge as a freshman in 2009 there were expectations that came along with the family name.

"There was definitely pressure early on to live up to what they had done," Brad Martinelli said. "People hear Martinelli and they expect you to be pretty good."

As time would reveal, though, Brad wasn't just pretty good — he was great.

In fact, after helping Marriotts Ridge to four consecutive state titles and earning Columbia Flier/Howard County Times Player of the Year honors this fall, he just may be leaving behind the greatest Martinelli legacy of all.

"It's hard to imagine a better four years than Brad ended up putting together," Marriotts Ridge coach Kevin Flynn said. "In some ways, for as much pressure as there may have been at the beginning, I think he may have benefitted from coming after his brothers.

"Growing up playing with them, watching them and learning from them, he knew what it took to be a great player."

Martinelli finished this fall, his senior season, with nine goals and 13 assists. During his four-year varsity career he compiled 25 goals and 33 assists for a total of 83 points, more than any other county player during that span.

But more than the stats, Martinelli's greatest contribution was his ability to consistently will his team to victory. In crunch time during his four years with the Mustangs, when the season was on the line in the playoffs, he never lost.

"Simply put, Brad's a winner," Flynn said. "He's the guy you want on your team if you need a goal, an assist or even to just control a ball in the midfield. When it was win or go home there was no one better."

This season, as the only active Marriotts Ridge captain, Martinelli was the team's "unquestionable leader," according to Flynn. And with him at the helm, the Mustangs managed to put together the program's first undefeated season.

There were moments of adversity on the way to 17-0, notably being down a goal at the half against Oakland Mills in the 2A South Region finals, but the Mustangs always seemed to have an answer.

"When we were down, we always found a way to step it up to another level," said Martinelli, who assisted on one of the team's two second-half goals against the Scorpions in the playoffs. "Against Oakland Mills, knowing it could have been my last high school game, we came out and played one of our best halves of the year to pull out the win."

As for picking his favorite of the four state championships, Martinelli says this last one, a 4-0 victory over Queen Anne's, will always hold a special place with him.

"It stands out because it was my senior year, we tied the state record (for consecutive state titles) and we got that first undefeated season for the school," Martinelli said. "Phil has always told me how tough it was to lose that last high school game, so to be able to go out on a win is really special."

Named to the all-county first team are:

Forwards

Nick Applegate, Marriotts Ridge. Thanks to Appelgate's versatility at the forward position, the Mustangs were able to play just one guy up top each of the last two years. He was the guy who could hold the ball and set up the offense, or turn and go to goal. And, for a little icing on the cake, he was the team's main long throw guy. "He has all the tools you could ever ask for from a guy at that position," coach Kevin Flynn said. "He had a lot of responsibility, but he handled it all extremely well."

Applegate ended up with 10 goals and 13 assists, putting him second in the county in total points. In just two years on varsity he amassed 56 points, putting him among the top 10 in program history in both goals and assists.

Jon Lippitt, Hammond. Not the fastest player in the county, Lippett made opponents pay with his incredible dribbling skills and ability to move his way through tight spaces. "He's at a different tactical level," coach Brett Cutler said. "His feet are as gifted as anyone I've seen and some of the things he did against two or three defenders at a time this year were unreal."

The numbers don't necessarily jump off the page, with Lippitt finishing the year with four goals and six assists. But the points he got were always big ones, including the team's lone goal in a 1-1 tie against River Hill, and he did so many other things for a relatively inexperienced Golden Bears' team. Cutler says Lippitt really grew into a leadership role as a senior. "Jon was giving our pregame talks by the end of the year," he said.

Jake Turney, River Hill. A repeat first-team selection, Turney was even bigger and stronger this fall. The extra muscle and fitness allowed him to play more minutes and handle the attention of being man-marked pretty much all the time, sometimes by two guys. "It was no secret, Jake was the focal point for other teams and he handled it well," coach Matt Shagogue said. "His work rate is so tremendous that we were able to move him around and find ways to free him up. And when he gets the ball, he holds off defenders so well that he's always dangerous no matter where he is."

There were big games littered all over the place on the way to eight goals and five assists this fall, including game-winners against Mt. Hebron and Atholton. As a captain this year as a junior, Turney is the first non-senior captain Shagogue has had since taking over in 2006.

Emmanuel Wright, Mt. Hebron. After a terrific finish to his junior year, helping lead the Vikings to the state finals, Wright picked up right where he left off this fall and went on to lead the county in scoring with 15 goals and 6 assists. Even more impressive than the totals was that he managed to score at least one goal in 12 of the team's 16 games, including a score in each of the team's first seven contests.

Wright was one of the county's shortest forwards, but his speed and finishing ability was up there with the very best. "If you gave him an inch he was going to take a mile," coach Mike Linsenmeyer said. "From the middle of last year through the end of his senior year, he literally seemed to get better with every practice and every game. He was a threat whenever he touched the ball."

Midfield

John Joseph, Oakland Mills. One of the county's most physically gifted players, Joseph was among the top five in the league in scoring this fall with 29 points (9 goals and 11 assists). But as his coach Don Shea points out, he often sacrificed personal glory for the betterment of the team. "JJ gave up a lot of individual statistics in order to form the other strikers around him, especially early in the season," Shea said. "He was truly a team player and leader for us on and off the field, maybe even more so off the field."

Of his nine goals on the season, five were of the game-winning variety. Shea also credited Joseph for leading a lot of the offseason activity over the years that helped the program go from 4-10-1 in 2009 to 13-4 this season.

Zach Riso, River Hill. As good as anyone in the county at playing with either foot, Riso came into his own this season as a junior. Spending time in a number of different roles, primarily in the midfield, he seemed to find another gear once the postseason rolled around. In River Hill's four playoff games, he had a hand in all eight of the team's goals, registering six goals and two assists. "I think that's the best run we've ever had with one player since I've been here," coach Matt Shagogue said. "It really was amazing to watch. I mean, he scored more than half his goals this season in the playoffs alone."

On the year, Riso finished with 11 goals and eight assists, putting him fourth best among county players in total points. Shagogue says, though, that it's his "ability to do pretty much everything," that really set him apart.

Emilio Rodas, Reservoir. Rodas moved up to the midfield this fall after playing outside defense as a sophomore and the results were outstanding. He missed the first few games, although once he got on the field, he was the one controlling play. He was a key facilitator in the transition game, but his real calling card was his efficiency on free kicks and corners. "We really worked on set pieces and Emilio could put it on a dime, even all the way over to the back post," coach Reg Hahne said. "He's so skilled and reads the game very well. He makes things happen."

Rodas finished the year with a goal and eight assists, thriving particularly in the postseason. It was his corner kicks that set up the game-winning goals against Centennial (3A East semis) and Urbana (3A state championship) in the playoffs.

Christian Von Rautenkranz, Glenelg. The Gladiators (6-6-1) improved for the third straight season and Von Rautenkranz was front and center every step of the way. Terrific both on and off the ball, a lot of what Glenelg was able to build offensively stemmed from his work in the middle. "He's the motor for us … our nucleus I guess you could say, " coach Andy Shearer said. "He's the one who ignites our intensity, starts the play and gets it forward."

His numbers, three goals and five assists, only tell a piece of the story, as the little things he did were just as important when it came to winning games. "Christian and this senior group have truly paved the way for our program," Shearer said.

Peter Vorel, Centennial. For an Eagles' team decimated by injuries most of the year, Vorel was the rock in the middle from day one. His leadership as a third-year captain was invaluable and was a major reason Centennial had one of its best seasons in the last two decades, finishing second in the county standings. "He was the guy who always kept a balance for us … so cool in every situation," coach Jim Zehe said. "He's always been one of those guys that doesn't have to say a lot to lead because his play speaks for itself."

Among the highlights was scoring both of the Eagles' goals in a comeback victory over Oakland Mills late in the year. On the season, he finished with 19 points (six goals and 7 assists) to lead the team.

Javier Wardcantrori, Reservoir. The senior captain was the heart and soul of the Gators when it came to leadership. "From the point of view of training and getting us organized, he was the guy for us," coach Reg Hahne said. "He practiced hard and played even harder … the perfect leader."

Wardcantrori registered only five goals and three assists this season, but his points came in big moments. He scored two of the team's five goals in a state semifinal victory over Huntingtown and accounted for one of three scores in a state championship win against Urbana. His chemistry with Emilio Rodas proved to be the key to Reservoir's run through the playoffs. "They played off one another extremely well and that made us hard to beat," Hahne said.

Defense

Connor Delaney, Marriotts Ridge. Standing 6-foot-3, with speed and athleticism, Delaney was a match-up nightmare on both ends of the field. He literally played a level above everyone else. "For Connor it all starts with balls in the air," coach Kevin Flynn said. "On offense we would push him up for long throws and corners and that's how he got most of his goals. Then, on defense, he dominated by winning punts and goal kicks. The ball is in the air a lot in high school soccer and there are very few better than him in that area."

Delaney led county defenders in points this fall (19), registering eight goals and five assists. Among the big offensive games for the senior was two goals in the state championship against Queen Anne's. Defensively, he was part of a Marriotts Ridge unit that had 11 shutouts.

Jack Jacobs, Atholton. Named a captain this year as a junior on what was a very young Raiders' team, Jacobs was responsible for anchoring the defense. He spent time at sweeper, stopper and center midfield. "We asked him to do a little of everything for us … I definitely put a lot on him because I knew he could handle it," coach Roch DeFrances said. "He's one of those kids that came in as a really good physical player and has added a great amount of skill to go along with it."

In addition to being a defensive stopper, Jacobs also was Atholton's main guy on long throws and direct kicks. He finished with four goals and two assists when he pushed up to help the offense.

Danny Mooney, Centennial. A junior, Mooney has continually progressed since his freshman year into one of the best two-way threats in the county. He normally lined up at right back, but as Centennial transitioned up field he was often operating as another midfielder. "He's relentless … he's constantly putting pressure on the other team to account for him," coach Jim Zehe said. "We would get him out wide and he'd make those combination plays all the way into the attacking third. But what makes him so good is, when we need him defensively, he's really strong there as well."

His versatility resulted in him accounting for four goals and five assists this fall, ranking him third on the team in total points, to go along with helping the defense allow just seven goals in 15 games.

Zach Smythe, Wilde Lake. A three-year starter that made second-team all-county last season, Smythe was given a lot of freedom by first-year Wilde Lake coach Jonathan Robinson. "He was the quarterback of our defense, using his instincts and experience to run everything back there," Robinson said. "We let him roam a lot, which freed him to make plays all over the field."

Not the biggest defender, Smythe makes up for it with his ability to read plays and consistently get himself in the right spots. "He makes not routine things, look routine," Robinson said.

Goalie

Hassan Mostafa, Oakland Mills. A fixture in net since his freshman year and two-year captain for the Scorpions, Mostafa was the face of an Oakland Mills defense that developed into one of the county's best units. His durability, having never missed a high school game, and athleticism were unparalleled. "He's the fastest kid on our team and that includes the strikers. Throw in his great feet and good hands and he was able to do a lot of different things for us," coach Don Shea said.

As a senior this fall, Mostafa surrended only 10 goals in 17 games. Along the way there were seven shutouts, including one stretch of three straight in October. He has decided to attend Slippery Rock University (Division II) next fall.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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