Last year was the breakthrough. This year has been the validation.
Mt. Hebron’s boys soccer team earned a 3-0 victory over Wilde Lake on Tuesday evening to lock up sole possession of this year’s county title, making it back-to-back crowns now for a program that had previously not won a county championship since 2006.
“I am extremely proud of the team because winning a county championship is not an easy thing to do and they’ve had to overcome some significant obstacles on and off the field in order to get to this point,” Mt. Hebron coach Mike Linsenmeyer said. “Whether it was losing our first game (against Reservoir), or my accident getting hit by a car right after that or any of the other issues that have come up, these guys have stayed focused and found ways to win.
“In this county, with how competitive every team is, winning the county title is an accomplishment to be proud of.”
The game against Wilde Lake, which was already a big one for Mt. Hebron (9-1, 11-1) in terms of securing first place, took on some added significance midway through the second half when sophomore Sebastian Tobar went down with a head injury and had to be taken away in an ambulance. The Vikings ended up composing themselves and adding a late goal to its already two-goal lead to seal the victory.
“I really enjoyed being able to win, especially playing for Sebastian who got knocked out by their keeper. So it felt really good to first win the county championship again, but just to also win it for Sebastian was really, really great,” said senior Same Rice, who scored the game’s first goal.
Rice had broken through 18 minutes into the first half and the momentum from that goal paid immediate dividends. Less than a minute after that initial score, Michael Yacynych was fouled in the box and awarded a penalty kick, which he converted to make it a 2-0 game.
That two-goal cushion remained the same until the later stages of the second half when Dino Broccolino scored his first goal of the year off a feed from Colton Wartman with just over 11 minutes remaining. Broccolino had missed most of the first-half of the season with a back injury, but him being back in the rotation adds depth to what was already a deep line-up.
“Depth is probably one of our greatest strengths this year and today alone we plugged a lot of guys into a number of different positions,” Linsenmeyer said. “That potentially could be a huge key for us going forward, especially with Sebastian maybe being out for a little while.”
The Vikings defense did their part to preserve the shutout the rest of the way.
While the team celebrated afterward, taking a few team photos and basking in the accomplishment, there was also a definite sense of unfinished business surrounding the team. After losing in penalty kicks in the region playoffs four straight years now, it was obvious that the main goals are still in front of them.
“Being county champs, we have an extra week to work, so we’re definitely going to be focusing on fitness, because that’s always a key thing, and PKs,” Rice said. “I’m really happy for us, not just for the county championship, but because I’m really confident that we will be able to progress through to states.”
Mt. Hebron 3, Wilde Lake 0
Goals: MH – Rice, Yacynych, D. Broccolino.
Assist: MH – Wartman.
Saves: MH – Jones 2; WL – Van Tassell 4, Comeaux 5.
Half: 2-0 MH.
Long Reach 1, Atholton 0
The Lightning got the game’s only goal from Robyn Valencia on a header that he placed over Atholton’s goalie. The win was the second in county play for Long Reach, which closes the regular season on the road against Mt. Hebron.
River Hill 3, Marriotts Ridge 0
Goals: RH – Carter, Ditman, Fuentes.
Assists: RH – Fuentes 2, Ditman.
Saves: RH – Sherlock 4, Park 2; MR – N/A.
Oakland Mills 3, Hammond 1
Goals: OM – Kingson, Onumah, Estrada; Ha – Reamer.
Assists: OM – Casseus 2, Higgins; Ha – Marroquin-Mejia.
Howard 3, Manchester Valley 0
Goals: Ho – M. Bruner, Coyle, Blum.
Assist: Ho – Chikhale.
Saves: Ho – Hartlove 8.