A goal by junior forward Mitchel Shanklin with 15 minutes, 39 seconds left and an own goal three minutes later lifted Eastern Tech to a 2-0 victory over River Hill at Ridley Athletic Complex at Loyola University Maryland on Wednesday in the 2A state championship game.
It’s the first state title for the Mavericks in their second state finals appearance, and just the seventh among all sports at the Baltimore County school. They finish the year 19-1 having won their last 18 games after losing to Fallston in penalty kicks on Sept. 9 in their second match of the year.
“It’s a little bit surreal actually,” said Eastern Tech coach Peter Glaudemans, who is in his 26th year leading the program. “We focus quite a bit at making sure the boys play for each other, they don’t play for me, they don’t play for the fans, they play for each other. They’ve done that beautifully all season long.”
Neither team generated many golden opportunities offensively, but the ball bounced the Mavericks’ way in the late stages. A cross from the right side into the box found Shanklin, and he was able to get his shot past Hawks goalie Patrick Sherlock after a failed attempt.
“One of the defenders missed the head ball and I took advantage and just tapped it in,” said Shanklin, who had 19 goals on the year. “... Most of my goals were just off head balls and it’s not just soccer that kicks in — I also play basketball and a lot of basketball is jumping up and getting rebounds. It’s the same concept, just jump up, head it in or kick it in.”
The lead ballooned to two a little more than three minutes later. Senior midfielder Mark Mudimba sent a cross toward goal from the left side and the ball was headed backward by a River Hill defender and over the outstretched arms of Sherlock with 12:21 showing on the clock.
The goal, which Glaudemans said was “unfortunate,” came about using the same game plan they have used all season long: early balls to the wing, use the speed of midfielders Isaac Ngobu and Kai Kressmen, and rely on Mitchel’s tenacity and “see ball, get ball’ mentality in the box.
“We didn’t get a goal that way today, but we created enough dangerous situations where they were a little bit concerned and kept dropping off, which allowed us to win more balls in the midfield,” Glaudemans said.
On the other side, River Hill (15-2-2) lost in the state championship game for the first time since 1996 and only second time in program history. The Hawks had won in their last nine finals appearances, but couldn’t possess the ball well enough in the midfield to create enough scoring chances.
“Eastern Tech absolutely won the game. They were very, very good tonight,” River Hill coach Matt Shagogue said.
Shagogue said he tried to make an adjustment at halftime by bringing their holding midfielder Justin Harris up because the Mavericks were finding a lot of space in the middle of the field. But his team just wasn’t able to connect after an early chance by Alex Smedley was stopped by a diving save from goalie Andrew Holt and a few early corner kicks.
Then, within the span of 3:18, they were down two goals. Holt made another diving save to his right with 3:58 remaining and picked up his 13th clean sheet of the year.
“It’s a big deal, it’s a really big deal,” Shanklin said. “I’m just happy I can be a part of it.”