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Oakdale boys soccer capitalizes on late goal, beats Oakland Mills in 2A state semifinal

What Oakdale lacked in experience heading into its matchup against Oakland Mills in the 2A state semifinals on Saturday, coach Dan Mulcahy says his Bears more than made up for in confidence.

Riding a six-game winning streak into the game against the Scorpions, Mulcahy said he didnt even have to give his team — making its first state semifinal appearance — much of a pep talk.

With any other group, I probably would have had to give this big speech about belonging here, but not with these guys. They have an amazing winners mentality and are super competitive, Mulcahy said. We studied Oakland Mills forwards and backwards and the guys were incredibly confident.

We may be a five-year-old school that has never been to the big dance before, but youd never know from the way this team plays.

Translating that confidence into results, Oakdale (16-3) got a goal from Joe Gula late in the second half and then allowed goalie Dakota Harich and the defense to do the rest, securing a 1-0 victory and a berth in next weeks 2A state championship game against Easton.

On the other side of the field, it was a familiar story of missed opportunities for an Oakland Mills team (9-7-1) that fell a game short of the state championship contest for the second consecutive season.

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I just thought we were stupid all game I have nothing but a bad taste after this one, said Oakland Mills coach Don Shea, whose squad had won six straight games of its own prior to the state semifinals. To play like that, here on this field again I was very displeased. Thats not what weve been working on all season, I can tell you that.

The first half of the semifinal contest was fairly uneventful for both teams. Each team managed just three shots, with the best of the bunch a transition opportunity by Oakland Mills Hymad NDiaye that forced Oakdale goalie Dakota Harich (4 saves) to come off his line and make the stop in the final 10 minutes of the opening half.

Things picked up for Oakdale immediately out of intermission, though.

The Bears came out on the offensive and generated several quality chances in the opening 10 minutes of the second half.

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Oakland Mills goalie Jay Bhylet (6 saves) had to leap high to his right to punch a laser shot from Kyle Martin in the 45th minute over the crossbar. Then, just over two minutes later, Bhylet again had to make a lunging save — this time moving to his left.

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And, while the score remained 0-0 into the latter stages of the game, Mulcahy says he could feel things shifting.

We had a game plan and I thought we executed it perfectly. I thought we had the better of the possession, especially as we got into the second half, and that was a huge goal for us, Mulcahy said. I knew as we started to test their goalie and get some more looks on goal, you start getting that feeling that it was only a matter of time.

As a coach, when youve done this long enough, you kind of develop a sixth sense where you can kind of tell when things are going to go your way. And I had a good feeling today.

Sure enough, in the 70th minute, all the Oakdale pressure finally paid off. On a play that started with a corner kick by Brian Flatter, the ball ended up bouncing around the box on the far post and Gula swooped in to pound it into the back of the net.

It takes a lot of practice I know where Brian Flatter puts the ball now and he likes putting it back post so thats where I go, Gula said. Im in there to score goals and I knew where to be.

Shea said it was a breakdown at the worst time.

We got caught watching and our guy never moved, he said. (Their guy) was standing there all alone.

Oakland Mills never managed to recover after falling behind and Oakdale went on to celebrate its first berth in the state championship game.

Afterward, an emotional Oakland Mills' senior — John Caldwell — tried to put some perspective on another crushing defeat.

We just had so much motivation from all the teams before and we knew that after senior game against Wilde Lake, winning in overtime, we knew we were going somewhere, said Caldwell, who was part of the Scorpions turnaround from six losses in the teams first 10 games. We fought so hard just to get back to the point we were at last year. Thats why this hurts so bad.

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