C. Milton Wright came up with numerous scoring chances throughout Saturday’s Class 3A state final against Great Mills at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex. The Mustangs converted on two of them, but missed on several others, a big reason the game went to penalty kicks.
This contest ended in a 2-2 tie through overtime. Then, in the five-round shootout, goalie Ryan Miller made a crucial save, and Jake Spurlock converted his penalty kick in the last round, and that let CMW earn the school’s first boys’ soccer state championship as the Mustangs won in penalty kicks, 5-4.
This was the fourth time the Mustangs made the title game, and the team finally broke through the wall in this contest.
“We’ve had confidence in this group all year,” CMW coach Brian Tully said. “They’ve shown a lot of character. It’s the first [championship] in school history, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.”
Tully said winning the state title was his team’s goal right from the start. The team made that clear at their initial meeting before the season as most of the players said that's what they wanted this fall.
They made the state championship two years ago but struggled in a 3-0 loss to Oakdale. Tully said his team has grown since then.
“Two years ago when we were here, I think for some guys the moment might have been a little bit too big,” Tully said. “I don’t think any of the guys this year, at any point in the game, felt the moment was too big.”
The Mustangs needed to stay composed as they never led in this game.
Marcus Minich gave Great Mills (15-4) a lead just 8:19 into the game. Brett Lindsey then tied it just 3:20 later. The Hornets grabbed the lead a second time when Nolin (cq) Bradley got the rebound of a Miller save and scored midway through the first half.
CMW (15-2-2) tied it on a Jayson Butler goal with 9:37 left in the first half. Ryan Belfiore lined a shot off the post that bounced right to Butler, and he finished it
“We did have a lot of chances,” Belfiore said. “We should have put some away. That’s reality – you miss some, you make some.”
They came up with several chances in the second half and overtime. Belfiore found at least four of his own, the best coming with just under two minutes left in the second 10-minute overtime. He got a ball in the box just past Great Mills goalie Gerig (cq) Thoman (seven saves) but Belfiore couldn’t finish it in traffic.
When the game went to penalty kicks, Conner Appleby and Belfiore both scored in the first two rounds, and the teams were tied at two. Miller (six saves) then made a diving stop and robbed Minich in the next round before Butler scored to give the Mustangs the upper hand.
“I was thinking just read his foot, and completely just sell out and go that way and cover that whole side,” Miller said. “It sort of like skipped in, but I got my hand down early.”
Both teams converted in round four – Sean Fleming scoring for CMW – and Tucker Protzman tied it for the Hornets in the fifth round. Spurlock then lined one higher to the left side, which set off a huge celebration from the Mustang bench.
“Everyone else was going left,” Spurlock said. “I was thinking [Thoman] was going to guess right this time, so I just went left.”
Tully said the coaches felt confident all season that the Mustangs could reach their goal of winning a state title, and they finally came through.
“It’s their ride,” Tully said. “I’m just kind of catching a ride with them. So it’s fun to be a part of it.”
Goals: G- Minich, Bradley; C-Lindsey, Butler. Assists: G- Protzman; C- Spurlock, Belfiore. Saves: G- Thoman 7; C- Miller 6. Half: 2-2. End OT 2-2.
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