“If we can’t beat River Hill, it doesn’t matter.”
That’s what Wilde Lake boys soccer coach Trevor Shea has been preaching since he took over the program before the 2016 season.
It’s a lofty goal for any team considering the Hawks have lost just three Howard County games since 2016 and none since a 1-0 defeat to Atholton on Oct. 13, 2017. Entering Saturday’s matinee with Wilde Lake, River Hill had won 18 of its last 19 league contests with last year’s 2-2 tie with the Wildecats being the only blemish.
That run of dominance came to an end in Clarksville on Saturday. Ousman Touray scored twice, including the game-winner 1 minute, 13 seconds into overtime, and Wilde Lake finally got over the hump and beat previously undefeated River Hill, 2-1.
“We’ve been looking towards this game,” Shea said. “This is kind of our benchmark and I’ve said that since I got here. We know that they go to states all the time, and if we want to measure ourselves of how good we are, this is the game.”
Shea said that after last year’s draw he had set his sights on a playoff rematch, but that never came as the Wildecats (5-2 Howard County, 7-2 overall) stumbled down the stretch and lost their postseason opener to Shea’s father’s team, Oakland Mills. Preparing for the Scorpions couldn’t be more different than prepping for River Hill, Shea said, and it proved costly.
“But we were set up this year,” he said.
A scoreless first half wasn’t without drama and scoring chances, most of which favored the Hawks. They had numerous free kicks and a pair of corners but couldn’t get anything past Wilde Lake goalkeeper Gabrial Viteri (nine saves).
River Hill (6-1, 9-1) pushed forward even harder early in the second half but it was Wilde Lake that broke through on its first quality chance. A long ball toward the box found Ethan Shulgold, who flicked it toward Touray. He shouldered it in in the 50th minute for a 1-0 lead.
River Hill’s first time trailing this season didn’t last long. In fact, it took barely a minute before the Hawks answered, as the continuous offensive pressure finally broke down the Wildecats’ back line. Alex Krause’s shot in the box bounced off the pointed left foot of William “Junior” Amankwa, who was left all alone at the six-yard box to tie the score at 1 with 29:51 remaining.
The River Hill pressure continued. Jonah Stoutenborough’s point-blank shot in the 60th minute sailed high. Jed Dixon’s free kick went high in the 62nd minute. Krause’s shot from the top of the box in the 69th minute missed a foot wide to the left. In the 76th minute, Austin Weltz’s right-footed inside the six-yard box was shanked and stopped by Viteri. The Hawks also had six corners.
For River Hill coach Matt Shagogue, that was the story of the game.
“We’re not going to beat you really good teams if we don’t score,” he said. “And, you know, we had a ton of really, really good chances ... we just didn’t put them away.”
Hawks goalkeeper Eric Gessell (five saves) made his best save in the final minute of reegulation, and in overtime they missed on one last scoring chance before Touray sealed it.
Sophomore Joebel Gray started the play. He said the coaches told him before overtime to rely on his speed.
“I just did that and I saw (Ousman) coming for the one-two play and that was it,” he said. “I gave it back to (Ousman) and it was a good finish by that guy. He’s been great for us all season.”
“Coach Shea, he always says to delay your run and that’s what I did,” Touray said. “Joebel passed it through and I just hit it.”
Touray has been a revelation for the Wildecats this season. He spent his freshman season playing JV at Long Reach but went home to Africa with his brother after his father passed away. He ended up at Wilde Lake after a year away and led the JV team in goals by a wide margin last season.
His scoring tirade has continued on the varsity level. Touray scored four goals against Dundalk on Sept. 7, three against Atholton on Sept. 17, two — including a game-winner in overtime — against Hammond on Sept. 26 and three against Reservoir on Thursday.
After his two strikes on Saturday, he has 15 of the team’s 31 goals in nine games to lead Howard County.
Shea said Touray has come a long way since the team almost cut him during tryouts last year.
“We were going to cut him because he had basketball shorts on, he had football cleats. Like, he didn’t know,” Shea said. “But literally seeing him progress over the last year; I mean, he’s a main target up there. He’s left footed, he’s big, he’s strong, he can win head balls. He’s got everything that you want.”
Wilde Lake 2, River Hill 1
Goals: WL — Ousman Touray 2; RH — William “Junior” Amankwa.
Assists: WL — Ethan Shulgold, Joebel Gray; RH — Alex Krause.
Saves: WL — Gabrial Viteri 9; RH — Eric Gessell 5.