South Carroll’s defense simply ran out of answers. Pinned in its end of the field for the majority of its 2A state semifinal game against Marriotts Ridge Saturday, the Cavaliers had held strong on the strength of its backline and several diving saves from goalie Brendon Quinn.
But, with less than two minutes left in regulation, Mustangs’ senior Jonathan Muth got himself behind the defense one final time and made it count.
Streaking down the left side, Muth fired a hard shot off Quinn’s hands into the back of the net for the deciding goal in a 1-0 Marriotts Ridge victory that puts the program one win away from its fourth consecutive state title.
“It was definitely a very nervous moment, but I kept thinking I had to keep my composure,” said Muth, whose goal was his third of the year. “My team was counting on me to get us back to the finals … that was our opportunity and I had to put it away.”
Quinn, who had come up big all afternoon en route to 10 saves for South Carroll, said the number of Marriotts Ridge chances ultimately caught up to them.
“I’m extremely confident in our defense and I really liked how we matched up with them,” Quinn said. “But they’re three-time defending state champs for a reason. We knew if we let them hang in too long, take too many shots, good teams are always going to finish one.”
Marriotts Ridge (16-0) ended up outshooting South Carroll (10-6-2), 18-3, on the game.
For those first 78 minutes, though, the Mustangs didn’t have anything to show for it.
Marriotts Ridge’s set pieces and corners had been effectively neutralized and when the Mustangs did get shots, Quinn stood tall.
In the 45th minute, Connor Delaney had a prime opportunity thwarted when Quinn deflected his header just wide of the right post. Later, in the 65th minute, Jeff Kammerer saw another quality chance stopped by a diving save.
“Once you start off the game with a save, your adrenaline is up and you’re feeling good the whole time,” said Quinn, who was in net in last year’s state semifinal game where Marriotts Ridge beat South Carroll, 4-1. “There was that want to come out here and make the outcome different this time.”
And when Quinn got beat, his backline was there to pick him up. With 22 minutes left, South Carroll’s Brett Basham saved a shot by the Mustang’s Nick Applegate off the goal line.
“I thought a couple of those shots were going in … there were a two or three right there, so, yeah, after awhile you start thinking maybe this isn’t going to be our day,” Marriotts Ridge coach Kevin Flynn said. “But credit to the guys for continuing to push. They didn’t get frustrated.”
Finally, with time ticking down in regulation, Marriotts Ridge got the break it needed. Delaney played the ball ahead to Muth, who got around the left back and converted into the left side with 1:44 remaining.
“That was probably my biggest goal of the season,” Muth said. “There’s the expectation that since we’ve won it three years in a row that we would get back to the championship, so I’m just glad I was able to help us do it.”
Marriotts Ridge will square off against Queen Anne’s, a 4-0 winner over Patuxent in the other 2A semifinal, at the end of the next week in the championship game at UMBC. The dates and times of the championship games have yet to be determined.
Marriotts Ridge 1, South Carroll 0
Goal: MR – Muth.
Saves: MR – Miller 1; SC – Quinn 10.