In a game against Oakland Mills that, in the eyes of Mt. Hebron coach Mike Linsenmeyer, was full of mistakes, bad plays and a lack of discipline, the difference was one smart, well-executed play.
After a foul 28 yards from goal, senior defender Matt Millen quickly placed the ball and, instead of waiting for a play called from the sideline or for a player to make a run, simply took a shot on goal as soon as he could. It bounced into the left side of the goal while Oakland Mills keeper Daniel Miranda stood on the right post beginning to position for a wall.
It was the only goal in a 1-0 home victory for the Vikings (1-0 Howard County, 2-1 overall).
“We practice set pieces a lot,” Millen said. “If we see the goalie is setting up the wall, not paying attention, we just look to play quick and we capitalized on it.”
Mt. Hebron missed numerous scoring opportunities throughout the game, especially in the first half. The Vikings outshot Oakland Mills, 9-3, and controlled the pace and possession for the majority of the first 40 minutes. They continued to pressure in the early stages of the second half, but the momentum swung after they found the back of the net with 25 minutes, 44 seconds remaining.
James Casseus’ long throw wreaked havoc around Howard County the last four years, but now it’s Taylor Nelson’s turn with Casseus having graduated. He peppered eight long throws in the final 20 minutes, each of them dangerous into the box, but Mt. Hebron keeper Justin Carguilo (5 saves) was strong as the last line of defense. He made several key stops in the final minutes, including one on the line after a bouncing ball in the box. Linsenmeyer considered his goalie’s play as one of the only highlights of the night.
“I thought Carguilo played great having to deal with those throws and made a play right on the line,” Linsenmeyer said.
Aside from that, the Vikings coach was none too pleased with what he saw for 80 minutes. He said Oakland Mills (0-1, 1-1-1) won more balls in the air, challenged the ball harder and stuck to their game plan much better than what his team showed.
“They did a better job of listening to their coach, and that frustrates me,” he added. “I’m a little frustrated that we’re not raising our level of play to play as smart as we can. We can’t just play hard and play dumb. We just have to play hard and smart.”