Just 14 minutes into Thursday's Class 3A state championship at UMBC Stadium, No. 9 Reservoir was caught off guard when Urbana's Austin Thames quickly scored off a direct kick before the Gators could set their wall of defenders.
Reservoir, however, entered the game battle-tested, having avenged regular-season losses to Howard County foes Centennial and River Hill in the playoffs, so there was no panic after the early goal. The Gators eventually scored twice to take the lead, but Urbana answered with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime.
Mike Peprah responded again for Reservoir with 4:32 left in the first extra period off a header from Emilio Rodas' corner kick, providing a 3-2 victory and handing Urbana its first loss of the season. The Gators scored all three of their goals off set pieces and won their second state title in the past three years.
"When they scored that first goal, I didn't know how we were going to respond, but we responded beautifully," Reservoir coach Reg Hahne said. "The last 10 minutes of the first half, I thought we played our best soccer of the year. That last goal was just a brilliant goal from Emilio to Mike."
Urbana (17-1-1) was without William Eskay, its top playmaker who recently trained with the U.S. under-17 national team, because he received a red card in the state semifinal against No. 13 North Harford.
Thames opened the scoring when he fired in the free kick from 25 yards as the Gators tried to get set on defense. Reservoir dominated the game after the goal and were rewarded in the 43rd minute when Javier Wardcantrori knocked in a rebound after Rodas shook the near post on a direct kick.
Reservoir (12-6) took the lead with just more than 19 minutes left in the game when Rodas crossed the ball into the penalty area on a free kick, Kyle Saunderson headed the ball across the goal and Carvell Akuffo finished the play.
"I was hitting good corner kicks and good set plays throughout the game, so I really felt it," Rodas said. "It just came natural, I guess."
But Urbana broke through again with 6:54 left when Brett LaBonte headed in a cross by Jonathan Kordell. Reservoir was unmoved again, and Peprah won the game with his header inside the far post in overtime.
"Every time Emilio gets it, I just communicate with him," Peprah said. "I kind of dragged my man way out far, so as soon as the ball came, I just sprinted down in there and it came right off my head."
Class 3A championship
No. 9 Reservoir 3, Urbana 2, OT
Goals: R-Wardcantrori, Akuffo, Peprah; U-Thames, LaBonte
Assists: R-Rodas 2, Saunderson ; U-Kordell
Saves: R-Linares 6, Dearden 1 ; U-Howell 6
Half: U: 1-0Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun