After each missed opportunity, Mt. Hebron boys soccer coach Mike Linsenmeyer told his team is was hard luck. And for 77 minutes Tuesday night against rival River Hill, the Vikings had their fair share of it.
On the other side, the Hawks capitalized on one of their few opportunities in the first half and took a 1-0 lead with 7 minutes, 25 seconds remaining before intermission on a perfect strike from junior Will Vasilios into the upper-right corner. River Hill was on its heels for the most of the contest after that.
But perhaps in typical fashion for a matchup between Mt. Hebron, the two-time defending county champions, and River Hill, champions in 2014 and co-champions in 2013, one goal wouldn’t be enough.
Senior Colton Wartman made sure of that much, as the Vikings senior got on the other end of Sebastian Tobar’s flick and buried his shot into the right side of the goal with 2:51 left in regulation to ensure a 1-1 tie after neither team scored in the two 10-minute overtime periods.
Both teams remain unbeaten on the year, and coaches on both sides described this year’s meeting as “typical” and “the same.”
“We score a good goal, we had a good strike, but it was typical Hebron,” said Hawks coach Matt Shagogue. “They just battle and battle and battle. They’re so tough, they’re so strong, and they wear you down after a while and they just got us.”
Said Linsenmeyer: “We scouted them and everything was the same that we thought it would be. The ball just wasn’t going in the back of the net.
“This is a typical Mt. Hebron and River Hill kind of game because I think they take a lot of pride in how they play and they play hard and they play hard for coach [Matt] Shagogue and our kids also play as hard as they can and they play together. It makes every contest hard. This game always for the kids is big because they have such a good program.”
Though neither team settled into the first 20 minutes of the game, the Vikings (2-0-1 county, 4-0-1 overall) controlled the majority of play while the Hawks (2-0-1, 5-0-1) were determined to pounce on the counter attack. Mt. Hebron junior David Velasquez and Wartman both had headers sail high or wide and none of the Vikings’ four corner kicks in the opening 40 minutes posed serious scoring threats.
Meanwhile, the Hawks saw one of their shots in the 35th minute ricochet off the crossbar, and four minutes later Justin Harris found himself with the ball at the top of the 18-yard box with Mt. Hebron goalie Sohraab Sidhu streaking toward him. His shot sailed high over the goal.
River Hill’s counter attacks resulted in most of their first-half chances and their first goal. A failed clear attempt by a Mt. Hebron defender left Vasilios alone with the ball near the top of the box, and after a bounce he finished his shot into the right-side netting of the goal. Senior Cameron Coates had the assist.
“I thought it was huge,” Shagogue said. “We thought that we could counter them because they’re going to bring eight guys forward on these throws and corners and we thought we could get them on counter attacks. We certainly wanted to get a second one but it didn’t work out. The good thing is we don’t have to play them in the playoffs.”
Linsenmeyer told his team at halftime to just keep pushing. Eventually the breakthrough would come, and after four second-half corners and numerous crosses to the middle, it came with the right-footed strike by Wartman. Junior Ethan Bishop chased down a cleared ball and sent it back in to the middle of the box, and Tobar then got the ball to the team’s big senior striker for the finish.
“From Day 1 [Wartman] established himself,” Linsenmeyer said. “He’s obviously going to have a great season. He’s so fast, he’s skilled, he’s smart, he’s a great teammate. That’s a big thing for us, obviously, is scoring. He’s honestly been in the right spot his whole career but he didn’t put the ball in the back of the net. That was a beautiful finish today.”
River Hill (2-0-1 county, 5-0-1 overall) — 1, Mt. Hebron (2-0-1, 4-0-1) — 1