This year’s race for the Howard County boys soccer title will come down to the regular season’s final day. Marriotts Ridge made sure of that Thursday night, taking advantage of a first-half goal by Jeff Kammerer on the way to a 1-0 victory over Oakland Mills on the road.
With just one game left on the schedule, a match-up on Saturday at noon against Centennial (6-3-1, 8-4-1), Marriotts Ridge find itself at 9-1 in league play and tied for first place in the standings with River Hill (9-1, 12-1).
River Hill’s last county game is Friday night against Wilde Lake (1-9).
Marriotts Ridge coach Kevin Flynn says this is exactly where he’d hoped his team would be at this point and that these pressure games are perfect preparation for the playoffs.
“It felt like a playoff game out there today, knowing that we had to win to keep pace with River Hill. But, that’s a good thing … we’re in a spot we want to be,” Flynn said. “We’re playing for a county championship and getting ourselves in that kind of playoff mentality.”
Oakland Mills (6-4-1, 9-4-1) certainly made Marriotts Ridge work to stay in the county title hunt. The Scorpions stayed behind the ball well defensively and played to their strengths offensively by working for long throws and corner kicks.
In what was a scoreless game for the majority of the first half, Oakland Mills had several scoring chances on long throws by John Caldwell that had to be saved off the end line by Marriotts Ridge goalie Jon Dryja (4 saves).
“That’s kind of our bread and butter and we know we can get some good things from those plays,” Caldwell said. “We feel like if we get enough of them, we’re eventually going to put one in.”
But with Marriotts Ridge’s defense holding strong, it provided just the opportunity the team’s offense needed to gain the upper hand. With 5:14 remaining in the opening half, Kammerer corralled a ball that bounced off a defender and finished into the left side of the net.
“I was hanging around the 18 and it came right back out to me,” Kammerer said. “I just swung at it and it got slightly deflected off a defender, which caused the goalie to dive the wrong way.”
Up by a goal, Marriotts Ridge kept pushing to gain some insurance. However, Oakland Mills seemed to only get stronger as the game wore on.
Playing on senior day, the Scorpions were subbing liberally to get everyone on the field. There was no fall off, though.
And, although the Mustangs ultimately prevailed on the scoreboard, Oakland Mills sent a message that — should the two teams meet in the playoffs — Marriotts Ridge should be prepared for a battle.
“I actually thought we were going to be able to keep scoring after we got the one, but they showed a lot of fight,” Kammerer said. “I think they wanted to show us that no matter what happens, today or in the playoffs, they aren’t going to be down and out. They are a tough team.”
Marriotts Ridge 1, Oakland Mills 0
Goal: MR – Kammerer.
Saves: MR – Dryja 4; OM – Rheingans-Yoo 3, Zovko 2.
Half: 1-0 MR.
Atholton 2, Reservoir 1
Goals: A – D. Royalty, T. Pitt-Bey; Re – N/A.
Assists: A – J. Tolson, A. Durham.
Saves: A – N. Bathras 8; Re – N/A.
Glenelg 2, Long Reach 1 OT
Howard 0, Hammond 0 2 OT
Mt. Hebron 1, Centennial 0 (Wednesday)