The head coaches in Saturday's Annapolis-Broadneck playoff game made it clear who they felt was most responsible for the Bruins moving on.
While Keegan Houser led Broadneck with two goals and two assists and Carter Hall scored two key fourth-quarter goals, it was Bruins' goalie Willem Benson who stole the show. Benson made nine saves, many on high-percentage shots by the Panthers, and led the Bruins to a 10-8 victory in a Class 4A/3A East Region Section II semifinal.
Broadneck (13-3) will host South River on Monday in the section final with a trip to the region final on the line.
"He played outstanding. He was the difference-maker," said Broadneck coach Clay White, on the play of his senior goalie.
After the Panthers' Presley Miller scored at the 6:35 mark of the second quarter, Benson stopped four shots the rest of the half, including two within 15 seconds after the Bruins scored to go up by two. Annapolis didn't score again until the 6:41 mark of the third.
"I think their goalie stood on his head," Annapolis coach Dustin McConnaughhay said. "He had three more saves than I wish he would have had. That goalie was the difference-maker."
Benson's best save came with four minutes left in the third quarter when the Bruins turned the ball over and left Benson one-on-one with Nick Bullen, who made several fakes before Benson made the stop.
"I was just doing anything I could to stop the ball," Benson said. "I didn't really know where the defense was and where the goal was, but I just focused on the head of his stick and made the stop."
After an early 1-0 lead for the Panthers and a tie game after one quarter, the Bruins led from early in the second quarter until the game was tied after three. Annapolis trailed by as many as three goals, but scored three straight over the final 6:41 of the third to tie the game at 7 heading to the fourth.
Of the Bruins' seven goals heading to the fourth, no player had more than one. With his team needing someone to come up big in crunch time, Hall scored 26 seconds into the fourth off an assist from Ben Berquist to break the tie.
The Panthers won the fourth-quarter faceoff, but Broadneck's Zach Doyle forced a turnover and Tim Oslislo came up with the ground ball that led to Hall's goal.
After Benson made two more stops while the Panthers were on the extra man, Hall ended a long Broadneck possession with his second goal that made it 9-7 with 4:39 left.
Houser scored his second goal with 4:06 left to push the lead to three. Annapolis scored with 14 seconds left for the final margin.
"It's great. They came out heavy and they were real athletic," Hall said. "We really had to work hard off-ball."
Outside of Houser and Hall, six other players scored single goals for the Bruins. Berquist had a goal and an assist and Brian Schwob had three assists to help Broadneck advance to face South River. The Bruins defeated the Seahawks, 14-5, on May 2.
"We're just happy to move on," White said. "They're tough and well-coached, so we're just trying to take it one step at a time."
Sam Bullen had three goals and assist and Miller had a goal and two assists for the Panthers, who also played the Bruins tough in a 7-5 loss to open the season.
"This game was everything I expected it to be. I thought we were two evenly-matched teams," McConnaughhay said. "Broadneck played hard, executed their game plan and finished with two more goals than us."
GOALS: AN - S. Bullen 3, Miller, Aytes, Wood, Kavle; BN - Houser 2, Hall 2, Oslislo, Berquist, Tobin, Facciponti, Radovic, Frederick. ASSISTS: AN - Miller 2, S. Bullen, N. Bullen, Ostrowski; BN - Schwob 3, Houser 2, Berquist. SAVES: AN - Missel 3; BN - Benson 9. SHOTS: AN - 31; BN - 28. FACEOFFS: AN - 11; BN - 10; GROUND BALLS: AN - 15; BN - 24.