The demeanor has been clear and consistent throughout the regular season and playoffs. The Severna Park boys’ soccer team has only had one true goal this entire season – becoming state champions. The Falcons have earned that opportunity and play Bethesda-Chevy Chase Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at Ridley Athletic Complex on the campus of Loyola University.
The response was the same after an early-season, 1-0 win over eventual WCAC champ Gonzaga, three overtime victories over Anne Arundel County rival Meade, including a playoff victory on penalty kicks, and even last Saturday’s 2-0 state semifinal triumph over Bowie. Ryan Muldoon said as much after the win over the Bulldogs.
“This is a great win, but it is not what we are working towards. We are working towards the end product – the state championship,” said Muldoon, who scored the opening goal against Bowie and has six goals and three assists.
The Falcons’ 2017 odyssey most likely began seconds after a crushing 2-0 state semifinal loss to Bel Air last fall. The team smiles after wins, players shake hands and enjoy their accomplishments, but make no mistake, this three-month journey has had the feel of one long business trip. And Severna Park has 80 minutes left on its time card.
Drew Belloff leads six Falcons who have scored at least five goals, tallying 21, to go with 10 assists. Teammate Keaton Bathras also has 10 assists to go along with seven goals, Griffin Bathras has six goals, Nate Carey five, and Sam Kriel has three goals and five assists.
Severna Park has won nine straight, posting seven shutouts during that span. For the season, the Falcons have outscored opponents 60-9 and posted 11 shutouts.
“We pride ourselves on playing 11 strong,” Muldoon said.
The team’s veteran defense has allowed more than one goal just once, and consistently frustrated opposing offenses all season. Goalkeeper Sam Farrell has allowed just one goal in the playoffs and here overall in the last 13 contests. The starters and Farrell are all seniors, with one game left in a Falcons’ uniform.
“Without a strong defense, it’s tough to be successful,” Severna Park coach Ryan Parisi said. “The four in the back and some of the midfielders have done a good job with both individual defending and as a group. A great defense is the backbone of any great team.”
That defense is expected to be tested by Bethesda-Chevy Chase, the Class 4A West Champions that defeated Sherwood in the semifinals on an Eli Sturm goal in the 55th minute. The Barons have won five state titles and made 13 state tournament appearances, but the last for both came in 2007. Emerging from the always-tough Montgomery County-laden region is often more difficult than the state tournament itself.
“Obviously, they are a great team, getting great results,” Parisi said. “It should be a great game.”
Nathan Musser leads the Barons with 11 goals and 10 assists, while Sturm, Justin Anderson, Matias Miranda-Vaira and Liam Becker all have at least five goals. The team has posted five straight shutouts in the playoffs and nine for the season. Bethesda-Chase has not allowed a goal since a 1-1 draw with Gaithersburg to close the regular season.
While the Barons come from a fertile soccer area, they are considered the underdog after emerging from the West Region as the No. 3 seed, knocking off Whitman, Churchill and Gaithersburg. They were even considered the underdog in the semifinal against Sherwood, but closed the match out on a penalty kick save by Bennett Schwartz in the final seconds of regulation. The team will not be intimidated by Severna Park, which itself it is playing for its fourth state title in 13 finals appearances.
Both teams share one strange bond. Neither has played a home game in some time. Bethesda-Chevy Chase has played away from its campus the past two years, while the Falcons have competed at Kinder Farm Park the past four years while a new school and, now, new stadium have been constructed. Severna Park’s seniors will never play a game on school grounds, but they hope to win a trophy that will reside there after Saturday night.
Boys soccer Class 4A state championship
Severna Park vs. Bethesda-Chevy Chase
At Ridley Athletic Complex, Loyola University, Baltimore
Saturday, 7:30 p.m.