Sophomore forward Michal Gradus scored three goals and senior forward Joe Cicenia added two more to lead Patterson Mill back to the Class 1A boys soccer state title game.
The Huskies (13-3) blanked Mountain Ridge(13-4-1), 5-0, Saturday in a state semifinal played at Northeast-Anne Arundel High School in Pasadena.
CMW (13-3) also won in 3A semifinal play at Linganore High School in Frederick. The defending 3A champion Mustangs, who beat City, 5-2, will defend their 2017 state title against Magruder at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex next Saturday. Game time is 5 p.m.
Patterson Mill will meet Loch Raven in the 1A state final to be played at Loyola University also Saturday. Game time is noon.
In Saturday’s win, it took the Huskies a little while to find the goal, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
The Huskies peppered the Mountain Ridge goal, but shots were saved or just off the mark.
“We’ve been starting games fast and the kids, at this point, know to get themselves ready to go during warm-ups, so even if we don’t put one in, we’re in their half, we’re pressuring their back line and goalie,”Huskies coach Wes Rich said. “We had a good start, we just couldn’t get the goal.”
That changed with 24:21 left in the first half. Gradus, who leads the team with 17 goals, brought a ball in from the left and drilled it past Miners goalie Brady Rounds.
Minutes before, Andrew Papageorgopoulos had a shot pushed away by the diving goalie Rounds.
Just seconds later, Mountain Ridge had its best scoring chance of the half.
Brady Weimer, the Miners leading scorer with seven goals, got free alone behind the defense and headed toward the Huskies goal
Huskies keeper Zach Fenlock raced out and as the two met just inside the 18, Weimer slipped and could not a good shot off.
The Huskies added their second goal with 8:04 to play and needed just two more minutes to score goal number three.
Gradus scored the second goal as well. Cicenia brought the ball into the box on the right side. Cicenia then hit a short pass forward to Gradus.
Gradus turned and hit a ground shot through the legs of the keeper.
“It’s a team effort, everything’s with the team. It’s not me individually, it’s all about the team,” Gradus said. “We work hard, we work together and that’s what happened.”
Cicenia added the third goal with an assist from Ryan Greezicki. Greezicki played a long ball over the top of the Miners defense and Cicenia beat the opponents to it.
Cicenia moved toward the goal and Rounds came out the goal toward him. Cicenia lifted the ball up and over Rounds for the goal.
The Miners came out in the second half with a little more offense, but the Huskies defense, led by Reggie King, Travis Karwatka and Kevin Dyke kept the Miners silent.
Weimer made another run for the Miners with 26:50 to play, but Fenlock (eight saves) made a sliding save.
Four minutes later, Gradus scored his final goal with help from the Miners defense.
Goalie Rounds made a leap to grab the ball, but came down on top of a teammate.
The ball popped loose and Gradus was there to drive it into the back of the net.
“It was just a mistake between the keeper and his defender,” Gradus said. “I think it was God’s plan for me, it’s just a great day for me.”
Cicenia closed out the scoring with an unassisted goal with 6:04 left. “It feels like this is the year,” Cicenia said. “It feels like we can score out of anything, it just feels like it’s our year. I’ve been through it all, I’ve lost on this field the first two years, lost on Loyola’s field last year and this year it just feels like it.”
Rounds faced many shots from the Huskies and finished with 14 saves.
“I don’t think we have won a state championship so it’s really important for our seniors to get that win,” Gradus said in reference the sate final. “It’s a team effort and it’s a beautiful thing that we can be here together, so strong and we are just focused on our goals.”
Isaac Rich, Karwatka and Gradus also had assists in the win.
In CMW’s win, the Mustangs outscored City, 4-1, in the second half to pull way for the win.
Conner Appleby scored twice in the win, while Nick Dunstan-Maiese, Jayson Butler and Ryan Belfiore added a goal apiece.
CMW assists were credited to Josh Witte, Belfiore, Appleby, Grayson Hichkad and Jake Spurlock.
City goals were scored by Noah Hassan and Guash Hassan. Guash Hassan and Chaz Smith had assists.