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River Hill boys soccer ties Mt. Hebron to clinch Howard County title

River Hill's Chris Lee, right, seen here celebrating his game-tying goal near the end of regulation against Atholton last week, delivered two goals in the final 20 minutes of regulation on Tuesday to help the Hawks tie Mt. Hebron, 2-2.
River Hill's Chris Lee, right, seen here celebrating his game-tying goal near the end of regulation against Atholton last week, delivered two goals in the final 20 minutes of regulation on Tuesday to help the Hawks tie Mt. Hebron, 2-2. (Photo by Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Just call River Hill senior Chris Lee "captain clutch." The nickname being thrown around in the stands in the latter stages of the second half of Tuesday's boys soccer game against Mt. Hebron seemed fitting, as Lee had just delivered a game-tying goal in the closing minutes of regulation for the second time in less than a week.

The latest bout of heroics — an opportunistic goal with 4:37 showing on the clock — completed a comeback from down two goals in the second half and helped River Hill earn a 2-2 tie that clinches the Hawks sole possession of this year's Howard County championship.

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"I love the big moments. I love the intensity … that's what I live for," said Lee, who finished with both of River Hill's goals. "My teammates support me throughout the game and it just happens to be that I've been able to be there for them late in the game these last couple times."

The overall feel on the field following the game was somewhat somber for both teams, considering the unfinished nature of the game. But for River Hill (9-0-1, 12-0-1), which has just one regular season game left, the result was all the team needed to wrap-up the program's second consecutive county championship.

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"The boys actually looked pretty disappointed for the result, but that's a good Mt. Hebron team and we just did something that's not easy to do: win two (county championships) in a row," River Hill coach Matt Shagogue said. "I think kids lose sight of the big picture sometimes, which is not always a bad thing because it keeps them hungry. But I also hope they see the significance of it and can enjoy it a little bit before we turn our focus to our bigger goals."

Mt. Hebron (7-1-2, 10-1-2) came into the day needing a win to stay alive in the county championship race and looked every bit like a team playing a must-win game during the first half.

The Vikings were controlling possession and pressuring into the offensive third from the get go. That pressure ultimately paid off in the 25th minute, as a corner kick by Johnny Linsenmeyer from the left corner found the head of Vaughn, who proceeded to redirect the ball off the right post and into the net.

"We were all fired up, definitely a chip on our shoulders after playoffs last year where we lost to them," Vaughn said. "We realized how big of a deal this was and that kind of correlated with how intense we played in that first half."

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The score remained in favor of Mt. Hebron heading into the break, but immediately out of halftime the game flow began to flip in favor of the Hawks.

River Hill got two great chances in the first four minutes out of intermission when a pair of through balls found Mike Heitzmann in stride. However, Mt. Hebron goalie Matt Murphy (8 saves) was up to the task, turning away both shots taken from just inside the box.

"Matt played awesome tonight, he really did. He dealt with some tough crosses and Heitzmann had a couple great shots that he just gobbled up," Mt. Hebron coach Mike Linsenmeyer said. "I was really proud of his effort."

Having withstood that initial push, Mt. Hebron seized the opportunity to put River Hill in its largest hole of the season. This time it was Linsenmeyer that finished a bouncing ball in the box for a 2-0 cushion with 22:34 remaining in regulation.

River Hill wasn't about to go quietly, though. Just over six minutes after Linsenmeyer's score, the Hawks finally found the scoreboard and trimmed their deficit to one when Lee fired home a perfect cross from Luke Turney.

Then later, with time winding down, Lee struck again. This time a hard shot by Turney from just outside the box glanced off Hebron's Murphy and trickled along the goal line, where Lee swooped in and finished with just over four minutes left.

"Matt is a great goalie, I've known him for a long time, but it was so slippery out here that I knew if it was a hard and low shot, the ball might skip and come out," Lee said. "That time, when it came out, I was ready for it."

Linsenmeyer gave credit to River Hill for battling back.

"We may have let down a little bit, but I think more than that it was them working hard," he said. "They deserve a lot of credit for getting themselves back into it after being down like that."

Both teams had chances during the overtime periods but no one managed to convert, leaving the two teams forced to settle for the tie.

For Mt. Hebron, there were mixed feelings. The draw ended any hopes of grabbing a piece of this year's county championship, but the Vikings also are the first team to not lose against River Hill this fall.

"It's bittersweet because we know we had them in the first half and then had a two-goal lead there before they came back with fire and tied it up," Vaughn said. "Overall, though, we know what we are capable of now against a good team and that gives us confidence."

River Hill 2, Mt. Hebron 2 2OT

Goals: RH – Lee 2; MH – Vaughn, Linsenmeyer.

Assists: RH – Turney 2; MH – Linsenmeyer, Cooke.

Saves: RH – Potts 3; MH – Murphy 8.

Half: 1-0 MH; End of regulation: 2-2.

Other scores:

Atholton 7, Long Reach 1

Goals: A – Johnson 2, Royalty, Munther, Frascarella, Fouts, Choi; LR – N/A.

Assists: A – Royalty 2, Johnson 2, Kim.

Saves: A – Bathras 4; LR – N/A.

Reservoir 4, Centennial 1

Goals: Re – Harris 2, Gueye 2; C – N/A.

Assists: Re – Salmans, Harris, Saunderson.

Saves: Re – Dachao 2; C – N/A.

Wilde Lake 1, Glenelg 0 2 OT

Goal: WL – Bonsu.

Assist: WL – Perez.

Howard 1, Marriotts Ridge 1 2OT

Goals: Ho – Bruner; MR – N/A.

Saves: Ho – Bowen 2; MR – N/A.

Oakland Mills 3, Hammond 0

Centennial 2, Marriotts Ridge 1 (Friday)

Goals: C – Merkey, Johnson; MR – Deitemyer.

Assists: C – Konkalmatt 2.

Long Reach 1, Reservoir 0 (Friday)

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