The C. Milton Wright and Towson boys soccer teams met for the third straight season in the Class 3A North region playoffs Wednesday and Mustangs junior midfielder Jake Spurlock did something nobody had done during regulation and overtime of the previous meetings. He scored a goal.
An attempted clear by a Generals defender ended up just outside the penalty area and Spurlock was there, sending a shot to the top right corner of the net.
The goal came with 27:40 to play in the second half and the No. 3 Mustangs protected the advantage to claim a 1-0 win at No. 10 Towson and the region championship.
The Mustangs (13-2-2) will meet Manchester Valley, a 3-0 winner over Thomas Johnson in the West final, the state semifinals Saturday at Linganore. The time has yet to be announced.
For Spurlock, seeing the ball come to his right foot and pouncing on a chance that moves the Mustangs closer to their first state championship couldn’t feel any better. It was his third goal of the season, each coming from outside the 18-yard mark.
“The ball came out, bounced a couple times and I just hit it good. It’s a great feeling,” he said.
In the previous two seasons, the teams played 200 scoreless minutes in the postseason, each winning once on penalty kicks. The Generals advanced last year.
On Wednesday, the teams played on even terms — C. Milton Wright senior goalie Ryan Miller and Towson freshman goalie Caeden Fong each made fives saves — with Spurlock providing the only final touch on offense.
The goal came minutes after the Generals (12-4) had some of their best chances.
Senior midfielder Kushal Giri had a strong game working the right side for the home team. With 30:20 to play, he was able to twist around a defender and send a cross to the middle for Bryce Vanik. His first header was saved by Miller, and when the rebound came back to him, a second header also ended up in the All-Metro goalie’s hands.
In reaching Wednesday’s title game, the Mustangs built a 2-0 lead against Harford County rival Bel Air on Friday, but needed a goal in the final minute for a 3-2 win.
It proved to be a valuable lesson as the Mustangs stayed firm on defense with the Generals unable to get any quality chances to tie.
“After last year, it’s great to come back and get some revenge. Just remembering the seniors faces last year, I didn’t want that this year,” said Miller, a four-year starter. “After we got the goal, we made sure with that last 25 minutes we had to stay really organized in the back. I kept talking to my guys and made sure we had numbers so we didn’t give up anything easy.”
The Mustangs will be making their seventh state tournament appearance — the last a runner-up finish in 2015 — still looking for their breakthrough championship. They believe they have the pieces, led by a strong senior class, to play and win on the season’s final day.
“We’re going to try to do something the school has never done before,” Miller said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I got here and we just need to get it done.”
With a largely inexperienced group that included an entirely new defense, the Generals got everything they could from their season.
In addition to the poised play from his freshman goalkeeper, Fong, Towson coach Randy Dase also praised center backs Nick Sickler and Kavish Shah and midfielder James Thorne.
“I totally believe we had them flustered,” Dase said. “We had them out of their game and our kids were executing the game plan to perfection and they believed. The only difference is they capitalized and we never capitalized, and we had the opportunities. And that’s one of the best C.M. Wright teams I’ve seen in the last few years.”
Goals: CMW — Spurlock. Saves: CMW — Miller 5; T — Fong 5. Half: 0-0