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C. Milton Wright boys soccer beats Tuscarora, 2-0, to reach 3A state final

C. Milton Wright seniors Adrian Gonzalez, left, and Caleb Carpenter both scored goals in the Mustangs' 2-0 state semifinal win Saturday over Tuscarora.
C. Milton Wright seniors Adrian Gonzalez, left, and Caleb Carpenter both scored goals in the Mustangs' 2-0 state semifinal win Saturday over Tuscarora. (Randy McRoberts)

C. Milton Wright boys soccer is headed back to the state final.

The Mustangs (14-3-1) defeated Tuscarora, 2-0, on Saturday afternoon in a Class 3A state semifinal played at Linganore High School in Frederick.

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CMW got goals from Adrian Gonzalez and Caleb Carpenter late in both halves to beat the Titans, who came in unbeaten at 17-0-1.

The Mustangs, who will meet the James M. Bennett in next week’s 3A state final at Loyola Maryland, had a couple decent scoring chances early on. But it was the Titans’ Roger Diaz who had the best look, as his shot sailed just wide 13 minutes into the game.

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Michael Gulla made a run for the Titans a short time later, but CMW keeper Jake Adams was there to halt it.

Gonzalez gave the Mustangs a chance with a header, but Titans keeper Aida Ritta made the save with 15:30 left in the half.

Seven minutes later, Gonzalez got his head on another ball, this time with a better result. The goal put the Mustangs on top 1-0 late in the first half.

Jake Kegley delivered the ball to the far side of the goal on a corner kick, where Gonzalez rose up and placed his header inside the right post with 7:46 left in the first half.

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“They had the tallest guy guarding me, the tallest guy, and they had a guy behind me, but we’ve done the same play over and over again and it somehow manages to work,” Gonzalez said. “I have a person, Drake [Kongkraphun], he’s like a pick. He steps in front of the guy, so I go around them and I was able to find the ball.”

The Titans played hard during the final minutes of the half, but the Mustangs’ defense and goalie Jake Adams were up to the task.

The Titans continued to press in the second half, making run after run seemingly every minute. An Oscar Valdez feed to Kyle Lillis led to a hard shot that was just wide with 35 minutes left. Five minutes later, Erick Rodriguez got the ball in close, but his shot found the post.

Two minutes later, Thomas McGough sent a cross to Gulla, but his header went wide, too.

CMW’s Matt Luk had a chance with 26:40 to play, but his shot sailed high as well.

The pressure from Tuscarora intensified just past the midway point of the second half, and with it, so did the play of Adams. The sophomore keeper had five saves, nearly half with his feet, and perhaps none bigger than the one with 16:30 left.

“It came fast,” Adams said. “Goalies now, a lot of them like to use their legs, and when I was younger I would train that a lot more. I think its useful, a quick, low shot, get my leg in there in time. It’s really helpful, obviously, it stopped the ball from going in the goal.”

Rodriguez made another empty run with 10 minutes remaining.

With the Titans pressing forward, the Mustangs were able to counter. Gonzalez played a ball to the left corner, where Jonathan Klein took possession. Klein moved toward the goal before sending a pass across the field. Caleb Carpenter easily one-timed the ball high into the net to make it 2-0.

“Getting that insurance goal with about six minutes left makes a big difference in terms of what you have to do in that last five minutes to see the game out,” Mustangs coach Brian Tully said.

Those final five minutes, though not easy, passed without any damage.

“We weren’t used to giving up the first goal, but we also weren’t devastated by the idea of being behind,” Titans coach Todd Knepper said. “We haven’t scored less than two goals in any game either, so this was the first time we were shut out.”

Given the many opportunities, Knepper didn’t expect his team to be held scoreless.

“We felt like we should have been rewarded with a goal. We had enough chances inside the 18 [-yard box], some even around the 6,” he said. “It’s one of those things, when you put on the shirt, you kind of sign up for days like this. It’s not always in our control, but I’m proud of our boys.”

Ritta finished with four saves for the Titans.

The 3A title game is set for Friday at 5 p.m. at Loyola University.

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