The playoff journey for the Sparrows Point boys soccer team was a mixed bag.
In capturing the Class 1A North region, the Pointers had a couple of closely contested one-goal wins and a couple others that were confident-building romps. An intense win over Clear Spring in penalty kicks followed in the state semifinals.
By the time the state title game came against Patterson Mill on Friday at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex, the Pointers were ready for anything.
Sparrows Point got two first-half goals from senior midfielder Dylan Brown and then handled Patterson Mill’s second-haf push to claim a 2-1 win.
The Pointers started the playoffs with a 5-8-1 mark and finish at 11-8-1, saving their best soccer for the most important time to capture the program’s fifth state championship and first since 2006.
Winning on the season’s final day has become the norm for first-year coach Joe Lambert. Prior to taking over the boys program, he was part of four state championship seasons for the girls team, the last three as head coach. Before the boys’ win, the Sparrows Point girls claimed a state-record fifth straight title under coach Lori Sexton.
On Friday, the Pointers got all the offense they needed by the middle of the first half.
Brown, who went into the game with five goals and left with seven, plus a championship plaque, said he found himself at the right place at the right time — twice.
“I couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t stop crying after the game for so long — I think it’s the happiest I’ve ever been leading the team like this,” he said. “We’ve gotten so close over the season and it just means so much to win it all.”
While the Huskies had the ball more in the opening moments, it was the Pointers who were able to capitalize on their first quality chance on a quick counter in the 11th minute. Givoni Herring got behind the Huskies’ defense on the right side and sent a low shot to the far post that goalie Ryan Jeon did well to turn away. But the rebound came to a streaking Brown, who beat a defender and then buried the chance from 8 yards for the 1-0 advantage.
An ideal through ball from Ben Hester led to Brown’s second goal, coming with 18 minutes to play in the first half.
Hester, who led the Pointers with 14 goals this season, earned his second assist of the season on nifty work with the ball before sending Brown down the right side for his finish just inside the penalty area.
After two straight trips to the state semifinals, Patterson Mill (11-8) dominated its playoff competition to reach the title game this year -- outscoring three East region opponents by a 18-2 margin before blanking International High School at Langley Park, 5-0, in the state semifinals.
In the second half Friday, the Huskies pushed for some anxious minutes before the Pointers had the championship plaque in hand. With 18:39 to play, the Huskies were awarded a penalty kick that Andrew Papageorgopoulos neatly placed on the right side to cut the margin to 2-1.
Their best chance to tie came on Cameron Neumann’s heavy shot with 3:55 to play, but goalkeeper Nate Schoene made the last of his three saves.
“It was a great season overall,” Neumann said. “Our players played with a lot of heart. We had a bunch of seniors that worked hard, but tonight things just didn’t go our way. We tried our hardest.”
Goals: SP – Brown 2, PM -- Papageorgopoulos
Assists: SP – Herring, Hester
Saves: PM – Jeon 3; SP – Schoene 3.
Half: SP, 2-0