Most people would consider an overtime game-winner in a state championship game a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
For Logan Malone and the Brunswick boys soccer team, it’s a twice-in-a-lifetime thing.
Malone scored the championship-clinching goal less than two minutes into the first overtime of the Class 1A final against Fallston at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex on Saturday, one-timing a layoff pass from Will Burton into the net from 6 yards out to clinch the Railroaders’ second-straight title.
Malone, a senior, was the overtime hero in last year’s 2-1 state final victory against Fallston. Saturday, without telling his teammates, he brought his 2021 state championship medal to the game for inspiration. By the end of the day, he had two around his neck.
“I didn’t tell [my teammates] I was bringing it, but I knew we were going to win,” Malone said. “Honestly, I’m speechless. I saw it going in, and I was just like, ‘We did it again.’”
It was a deserved result for Brunswick (17-2-1), which mostly held the better of play and led Fallston 2-1 at halftime and throughout almost all of the second half. The dramatic finish came after Fallston scored a hard-earned goal to extend the game.
The Cougars (13-4-1) saw their prolific scoring duo of Christian Worthington (30 goals, 7 assists) and Dylan Shepherd (23 goals, 18 assists) frustrated by Brunswick’s clustered midfield and defense for extended stretches Saturday, but they kept pushing and found an equalizer in the 77th minute. Shepherd’s free kick into the box found space for senior captain center back Jayden Dillard, who leaped and finished a glancing header, sending the game to overtime tied at 2.
“When you’re down 2-1, you’ve got to make sure everybody’s pushing and doing everything they can, everyone’s keeping their heads and not doing anything stupid so that we can go ahead and at least push it to overtime and have a chance to win it,” Dillard said.
With momentum suddenly in Fallston’s favor, Malone’s overtime reprisal was a sudden and shocking reversal.
“Heartbreaking end,” Fallston coach Christopher Hoover said. “I felt confident in the guys the entire second half as we went through. We were moving the ball, connecting passes, we were doing a great job on defense, and we came through with the goal to tie it up with three minutes to go — we were cutting it a little close. I thought we had the momentum going into overtime, and we just didn’t get it going.”
Fallston got the action started early. In the game’s third minute, Shepherd made a strong dribble move on the right sideline to get through a pair of Brunswick defenders and sent a cross to the far post. Brunswick keeper Finn McGannon tried to bat it away, but it cleared his fingertips and fell to Ben Kripas on the goal line. Kripas laid it off to Ethan Salsa inside the 6-yard line, who punched it into an open net for a 1-0 lead.
“It was a little morale crusher, but I knew we would get one and get back into the game,” McGannon said.
Brunswick turned its attention to responding and did so on the shoulders of senior center back Marvin Vasquez Molina. Advancing far up the field from his post on the back line, Vazquez Molina leaped into space toward an out-swinging cross from Noah Paschalides, heading the ball into the side netting at the far post to tie the game at 1.
“It was an instinct,” Vasquez Molina said. “I have a spot to sit in to try to juke the defender and go for the header. I kind of called it. When the game started, I was like, ‘Imagine if I scored today, in the finals.’”
Brunswick struck again just five minutes later. Paschalides made a dribble move to elude defenders on the left side then put the ball to the feet of Ricky Cicmanec, who threaded a pass to Burton in stride. Burton was in on goal and beat Fallston goalkeeper Dylan Kreis low for a 2-1 lead.
The lead could have grown if not for the play of Kreis, who made a pair of dazzling saves to thwart Brunswick breakaways before halftime, followed by multiple kick saves in the second half. Kreis finished with six saves.
Worthington, a senior, was disappointed in the result but proud of his team.
“Obviously, we scored with three minutes left, we’re feeling good, and we just wanted to go to overtime,” he said. “It feels like overtime didn’t even happen. We never got a chance to do anything. They had the ball the whole time. It’s just unfortunate that’s how it happened. … I thought it was an honor to be here. We obviously wanted to win, but I’m still happy. I’m sad, but I’m happy.”
“These guys are everything I could possibly ask for all season long. I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Hoover said.
McGannon, who made two saves, said Brunswick’s core players have played together for a decade or more, and it was chemistry that carried the team on Saturday.
“We’re so close, and we know each other so well, and we’ve just bonded like that. It really is different and makes us so much greater,” he said.