Everyone who played in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference title game yesterday left UMBC Stadium a champion, but none of the participants seemed very happy.
As St. Mary's coach Jamie McNealey put it: "It's hard to get excited about a tie."
After battling for 100 minutes, including two 10-minute overtime periods, St. Mary's and St. Paul's finished in a 2-2 tie and were declared B Conference co-champions.
"I guess both teams deserve it, but it's been too long of a haul for it to end like this," said St. Paul's senior Brian Pierson, who would have preferred to have his team's fate determined by a shootout. "You don't want to lose, but you want to win, too. I'd like it to be one or the other, but St. Mary's is a good team and I'm proud to be co-champions with them."
The two clubs split one-goal games during the regular season and yesterday's deadlock made it even harder to figure out which team is superior.
"I think it was a hard-fought game and both teams had chances. I would still like to believe that we're a bit stronger, but you have to put the ball in the goal," said St. Paul's coach Howard Schindler. "I think we're frustrated because we've been finishing a lot of opportunities and today we didn't finish quite the ones that we needed to.
"It's not quite as sweet as we would have liked it, but what are you going to do?"
The Crusaders (12-6-2), who last won the title back in 1983, had a stiff wind in their favor in the first half and they capitalized in the 18th minute when Chris Horich dodged a defender and sent a slicing shot past the hands of St. Mary's goalie Matt Miletich (eight saves) for a 1-0 lead.
St. Mary's, which had never won or even shared a title, knotted the score 9:38 into the second half on an unassisted goal by Marcus LaChapelle and the Saints -- with the wind now at their backs -- took the lead just under three minutes later on an unassisted goal by Chris Criswell.
Horich's second goal tied the game for good with 23 minutes left.
L Each team had chances in overtime but neither could convert.
"No one likes to win in a shootout," said Criswell, who scored the game-winner when the two teams met three weeks ago in Annapolis. "I would have rather us just kept going and going until somebody scored."
"We've come a long way the last two years and I told the guys that they should be proud of what they accomplished this year," said McNealey, whose Saints finished the season with a 13-3-3 mark. "These two schools have a great rivalry in all sports and they both proved that today."