Wright's Hilyard ready for another shot at final


C. Milton Wright senior goalkeeper Tim Hilyard hasn't forgotten last season's Class 3A state final loss to Centennial.

All those shots by the Eagles. All the corner kicks. All the pressure of playing in his and the school's first state title game.

Despite giving up half of his total goals allowed (four) in the playoffs in that one game (a 2-0 loss), it was not at all indicative of how stellar Hilyard's performance was in the postseason.

After recording five shutouts during the regular season, Hilyard propelled the Mustangs to the state finals by recording four more shutouts in their five other tournament games, while finishing the season with a goals-against average of under one per game.

Now, a year later, Hilyard is even more determined to lead the Mustangs (4-2) just as far.

"We all want to get back to it [state final] and I kind of look at it as what can I do," said Hilyard, a four-year starter and second-team All-County selection. "It's something you dream about, winning the states and getting that far and not making it, you kind of want it this year. I mean it is my senior year."

A senior year in which Hilyard has less experience in front of him -- as the Mustangs start two sophomores and one junior -- and more of a burden upon himself. But, Hilyard thrives on pressure, especially in big games.

There was his six-save performance in a 3-2 overtime win against cross-town rival Bel Air that put C.M. Wright in the regional final a year ago, and he made several key saves to preserve ties against Centennial (1-1) and Fallston (1-1) in two of the Mustangs' first four games last season.

"Basically I see it as any team can beat you, so you always have to be up for each game," said Hilyard, who has allowed just two goals over his past five games, after giving up three in the season-opener against Centennial. "I just come out trying to be aggressive and try to stop everything and not lose my concentration."

Hilyard has been an impact player since his freshman debut. He was rushed into duty in the Mustangs' third game of the year in against Overlea, when the then-starting goalie went down with an injury. Hilyard did not disappoint and he has kept the job ever since.

"Tim is tall, wiry and covers a lot of ground," said Jerry Thomas, C.M. Wright's goalkeeper coach for the past six years. "His first four or five steps and his tremendous jump, he gets a hand on things that you don't think anyone would move on."

Said Hilyard: "Jerry's helped me out a lot on one-on-ones, angles and high balls."

Among Hilyard's biggest improvements have been his punting and leadership in the back.

"His punts are beautiful and he's now drop-kicking," said Thomas. "Also, he's really communicating well the last couple of years with the rest of the defense, telling them what he sees. The others look to him for leadership."

Hilyard didn't have much of an interest in soccer while he was growing up in California and played more on offense than in front of the goal. He said all that changed once he moved to Maryland.

"Here, the game is much more competitive, there's much more skill," he said.

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