Howard becomes last undefeated team in Howard County
The Howard goals came early, late and often, the defense held the Mt. Hebron offense scoreless in the second half, and the midfield ruled the face-offs and possession all game long.
It was a complete team victory on April 17, as the Lions seemed to do everything right in dominating one of the top defenses in the county to win, 21-5, in a battle of undefeated teams.
"I think we came out with a lot of heart. We knew this was going to be a big game, and that they were going to be excited to play. That second half, we really stepped it up," Howard senior midfielder Nolan Dunnigan said. "Between every position – (goalie) Collin McClelland stepped up huge for us, Eric (Schroeder), Scott (Bruner) – it was a team win tonight."
Someone different seems to lead the Lions offense each time out. This time, it was a combination of seniors –Bruner, who scored six goals in the second half and eight total, and Schroeder, who tallied four in the first half and seven total.
"The dynamic of our offense, it makes us more versatile. I feel like we got five or six guys that can dodge, we got four or five guys on the field at a time that can shoot with time and room," Howard coach Jimmy Creighton said. "It makes us tough to prepare for. You don't know who's going to come at you, you don't know who's going to get their goals that day."
Entering the contest, Mt. Hebron (5-1 county, 8-1 overall) had been allowing just more than three goals per game thanks to the play of their defense and goalie Casey DuBois. But Vikings coach Mike McCarthy thought his goalie never stood a chance against the versatile Lions offense, and Creighton said it was a tribute to his offense.
"I think it says a lot about our shooting (to score 21 goals) on Casey," Creighton said. "A lot of our shots were inside five yards. It says a lot about our offense."
Though Mt. Hebron's Shane Brookhart scored the game's first goal, Howard answered by scoring six of the next seven goals to take a 6-2 lead.
The Vikings scored three in the second quarter and kept it close at 10-5, but it turned out that the last goal they would score in the contest would be with 3:11 remaining in the first half.
Howard had been slow out of the gates in several games this season, but Creighton thought his team started out strong against a Vikings team that was fired up under the lights.
"The offense got clicking early ... We wanted to get at them early and just keep at them and put the pressure on them," he said.
The second half, however, the Lions kicked it into another gear – just as they have done all season. Bruner and Schroeder put on a scoring clinic, while senior midfielder Ryan Land won eight of 11 face-offs.
Bruner scored the first three to open the half, and Schroeder netted the next two to push the lead to 16-5. In the final quarter, the Lions (7-0, 10-0) kept the foot on the gas as Bruner tallied three more and force the running clock.
"We definitely got on their defense a little bit. I just think we weren't playing as well as we could've (in the first half), and they beat us in the groundball battle in the first half. No doubt in my mind. Once we got those things fixed, we were able to push the ball a little more, play a little faster and we got some easy goals."
McCarthy knew his team would need to play its best and then some to take down the mighty Lions. But he added there is no shame in losing to them, and that this Howard team – specifically the offense – is one of the best the county has seen in a long time.
"They're very good. They capitalize on every mistake you make," McCarthy said. "They shot the lights out, literally. I think 50 percent of their shots were on (goal). ... They're loaded. They're a great team. That's one of the best offensive teams in the last 15 or 20 years in the county."
Howard (7-0 county, 10-0 overall) 21, Mt. Hebron (5-1, 8-1) 5
Goals: Ho – Scott Bruner 8, Eric Schroeder 7, Brad Zulick 2, Ryan Land 1, Michael Travisano 1, Josh Vetter 1, Nolan Dunnigan 1; MH – Shane Brookhart 2, Scott Mackell 2, Brian Demek 1
Assists: Ho – Alex Stephanos 5, Zulick 4, Dunnigan 2, Gerus 1, Ford 1; MH – Bryce Brookhart 1, S. Brookhart 1