MANCHESTER — Scoring early gave Manchester Valley’s boys soccer players the advantage they wanted to relax and try to play their style.
It turned out the Mavericks needed something else — a big performance from goalkeeper Joey Hamm.
The junior turned Rockville away enough times to preserve the lead, and Man Valley clipped the Rams 2-1 to take Tuesday’s Class 3A West Section 1 semifinal.
Senior forward Grant Scibek had two goals, including the game-winner with about 25 minutes to play. The game was far from over, however, and the Mavericks (11-2) knew it.
“We have Joey Hamm in the back of the net, so we’re always confident,” Scibek said while patting his goalie on the back after the win.
Hamm came up big with 15:24 remaining in the first half when he stopped a penalty kick.
Rockville’s Felix Rivera drew a penalty inside the box but had to leave the field because of an injury. The Rams turned to Colin Carroll, a midfielder and team captain. Carroll ripped a low shot that Hamm kept out of the net, and the rebound missed its mark.
Hamm made 10 saves, none bigger than the PK stop in the first half.
“I knew I had the make the save,” Hamm said. “I don’t know, i just had to get it. We’ve been practicing [PKs] in practice.”
His work helped the Mavs hold their 1-0 lead at the break, but Rockville (7-6-1) got Rivera into its offensive flow more often in the second half.
The junior turned a transition pass into the tying goal less than 10 minutes after the intermission by streaking down the near sideline and weaving his way around a few Mavs defenders.
“Our defense knows that if we make a mistake in the back that our keeper’s going to bail us out,” said MV coach Andrew Harrell. “And that’s exactly what happened to Joey. Now, granted, he had to bail us out more times that I would like to see...”
Harrell pointed to his back line of defense — seniors Dayne Koontz, Declan Marvel, and Colin Shaneybrook formed the unit Tuesday — for coming together when needed. Scibek said it was a relief watching the defenders focus on stopping Rivera while the offense tried to do its thing.
“If he gets loose he can make dangerous plays happen,” Scibek said. “You know when you’ve got Declan in the back and Joey in the back, you know we’re safe.”
Scibek was part of that safety plan when he scored the go-ahead goal. Alec Wargo fed Scibek a pass from inside the box, amid a cluster of Rams defenders, and Scibek buried the shot.
Scibek’s first goal came less than 1 minute into the game on a crafty throw-in from the far sideline.
Rivera nearly tied the game around the 28-minute mark of the first half when he tried to chip the ball over Hamm’s head, but the shot sailed high.
With less than 4 minutes to play, Rockville’s Sam Wells sent a free kick into the box and Hamm came up with a pair of sprawling saves — one on an open Rivera in the middle — to maintain the lead.
Brian Reyes turned on a crossing pass into the box in the final minute, from the right corner along the near sideline, but Hamm stopped the Rams there too.
Man Valley grabbed possession after the Rockville surge and advanced the ball past midfield as time ticked away. The Mavs had it deep in Rams territory when the final horn sounded, and the home team survived.
Manchester Valley won its 11th in a row, and the Mavericks are moving onto the sectional finals against either Westminster or Magruder.
“We’ve been working hard all season … to find our stride, and I think it’s finally coming into play,” Harrell said. “Everybody’s coming together.”
Goals: R-Felix Rivera; MV-Grant Scibek 2.
Assists: R-none; MV-Alec Wargo.
Saves: R-5 (Jahir Williams 4, Ethan Garcia-O’Donnell 1); MV-10 (Joey Hamm).
Latest Carroll County High School Sports
Halftime: MV, 1-0.