Entering Wednesday’s matchup against Marriotts Ridge, Mt. Hebron boys soccer coach Mike Linsenmeyer was still waiting to see his team play a full 80-minute game. He’s certainly seen stretches of what his team can be during their unbeaten start to the season, but not yet from start to finish. As his team nears the halfway point of the regular season, it was time to put it all together.
The Vikings responded to their coach’s challenge and answered the bell with dominating 80-minute performance that ended with a 5-0 shutout of the Mustangs. They scored three times in the first 17 minutes and never looked back, as five different players found the back of the net to improve to 4-0-1 in county play and remain unbeaten overall at 6-0-1. Marriotts Ridge fell to 3-2 in league play and 5-3 overall.
The win, paired with River Hill’s 2-2 tie with Oakland Mills, gives Mt. Hebron sole possession atop of the county standings with six league games remaining.
“The goal is to make sure we come out and play for 80 minutes and come out strong, and they obviously did. I was really happy with that,” Linsenmeyer said. “You never know when goals are going to go in so you just try to create chances and we were lucky to have our chances go in.”
Junior David Velasquez set the tone early with a 20-yard strike into the top left part of the goal after senior Trevor Namie set him up in front, and the confidence built from there. Junior Sebastian Tobar followed 11 minutes later with a simple header into the left side of the net with help coming in the form of junior Vincent Broccolino’s floated pass from the other side of goal.
The rout was on after freshman Unho Jeong’s goal made it 3-0 in the 16th minute. He found the ball at his feet after it bounced around the box for several seconds following a corner kick.
“It’s always tough giving up a goal in the first five minutes, and when that happens a team gets to play how they want to and they did,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Quinn Khouri, whose team handed Centennial its first county loss with a 1-0 double-overtime victory on Sept. 25. “They played well and the boys need to step up next week.”
The Vikings carried the 3-0 lead into the break and until Broccolino scored in the 54th minute, extending the lead to four. The benches emptied soon after but the scoring didn’t, as freshman Gabe Bonilla scored in the 75th minute to give Mt. Hebron goal No. 25 on the season.
“We definitely finished well today,” Namie said. “We moved the ball better, we were unselfish, we put ourselves in position to score better than we did against River Hill [on Sept. 19].”
Mt. Hebron didn’t leave the game unscathed, however. Tobar left the game early in the second half with an injured wrist, though Linsenmeyer said he’s unsure yet if he will miss any time. Luke Baldwin also left the contest and did not return with a head injury.
The injuries have piled up thus far for the Vikings, but Linsenmeyer said it could be used as an advantage in the long run considering how many players have been forced to change positions on the run.
“We’ve had so many people injured that people have just stepped up and accepted their roles,” he said. “It’s a short span to learn with different holidays and fewer practices, and that might be why we don’t look as great as a team because people have been put in different positions they haven’t played before.”
That doesn’t mean the Vikings aren’t prepared for a deep playoff run. In fact, Linsenmeyer said that while this year’s team hasn’t quite jelled yet, in part because of the injuries, it could be as good or better than last year’s squad that reached the 3A state championship game.
“I think as long as they keep playing well together as a team, they could be as good or even better than last year’s team,” he said. “They’re a different kind of team. They’re not as mature, but last year I thought they were such a good team, this year they are starting to jell. It really hasn’t happened, at least for long stretches, but hopefully today it really started.”
Mt. Hebron (4-0-1 county, 6-0-1 overall) — 5, Marriotts Ridge (3-2, 5-3) — 0
To see other scores from around the league on Sept. 27, click HERE.