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Late goals carry Sherwood boys soccer past Howard for 4A North region title

Highlights from Sherwood Boys soccer’s 2-0 win over Howard to secure the 4A North Region championship on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

There was a time not that long ago when Sherwood boys soccer was a state powerhouse, winning back-to-back state championships in 2004 and 2005.

So when current Warriors coach Matt Parsons took over three years ago, his goal was to help the program return to that point.

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On Wednesday evening, with a 2-0 victory over Howard to secure the 4A North region championship, Sherwood took a huge step in that direction.

“Sherwood has had a very historically strong program and it’s something that when I took over the program was at the top of my list — getting us back there to that level,” Parsons said. “And all the credit to these players. They are so hard working and I couldn’t have asked any more of them. They’ve earned this.”

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With the win, Sherwood (13-1-1) advances to face the winner of Bethesda-CC and Gaithersburg at Wise High School on Saturday in the 4A state semifinals. It’s the first time the program has advanced this far since the title team in 2005.

On the other side, Howard saw a six-game winning streak come to an end with the loss. The team had a couple scoring opportunities just miss and ultimately was unable to hold off Sherwood’s attack as the game reached the latter stages.

Seven different players scored for the Hawks, who scored a season-high eight goals to win 13th regional title on Tuesday night.

“We did everything that we could and I was proud of the guys, but that’s just a really good team that was able to generate a few more opportunities than we did and eventually finished them,” Howard coach Nils Schroder said. “I thought we defended well overall during the flow of the game before a couple of those bang-bang plays at the end turned out to be the difference.”

There were solid chances for both teams in the first half, but nothing that truly threatened finding the net. Sherwood forced Howard goalie Colin Sutch to make four saves in the opening 40 minutes, while the Lions’ best scoring opportunity before the break was a point-blank shot by Shane Fisher that ended up sailing wide left.

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After the break, Howard switched goalies to bring in Kenny Accardi (5 saves) and he picked up right where Sutch left off. Just five minutes into the second half, Accardi made a spectacular diving save to his right to keep the game scoreless at the time.

But finally, with just over 28 minutes left in regulation, Sherwood came through with a game-changing play. Pinned its defensive end, the Warriors were able to gain control near its own end line and Loic Ngnatho slotted a lead pass to Diego Ramirez.

Ramirez then found Ronald Little for a give-and-go with Ngnatho down the left sideline. Eventually Little was able to cross the ball to the right side and onto the foot of a streaking Luke Cheng, who fired a hard shot into the corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.

“They had pushed some numbers forward and that opened up an opportunity for us to get out on the break with some of our speed and a couple guys made some great runs,” Parsons said. “We were able to break them down, get in behind and finish one of those limited opportunities we had.”

After falling behind, Howard pushed forward and generated a couple more solid shots. Ultimatley, however, Sherwood goalie Matt Levy was there to gobble everything up on his way to finishing with four saves on the game.

With just over a minute left, Sherwood ended up getting some insurance after a foul in the box resulted in a penalty kick. Ngnatho calmly stepped up and buried the ball into the left corner to create the final two-goal margin.

Parsons said afterward that he hopes the team can keep the momentum going.

“Our team motto all season has been one percent better, so hopefully we can take this and keep improving to be even better come Saturday,” he said.

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