Before last night, Walt Whitman's had won two state titles, reached the finals on two other occasions and lost just once in the semifinals since 1990.
And with their move from the 3A to the 4A classification this year -- away from 3A perennial adversary Centennial -- the Vikings (9-4-3) were favored to win easily.
But last night at Arundel High, No. 14 Perry Hall made sure that won't happen, overcoming a 1-0 halftime deficit with goals from Joe Capone, Alan Batac and Kevin McCarty in a 3-2 victory.
The win sends the Gators (13-2-1) to their first state title game, 7:30 p.m. next Saturday at Old Mill.
"This is like being in the World Cup," said Capone, who tied the game at 1 with 25 minutes left, and assisted McCarty's goal for a 3-1 lead with 14 minutes left.
"We knew all about Whitman's reputation, and they have some great teams," said sweeper Adam Natalski.
"But being from Baltimore County, I don't think they expected us to play this well. Maybe they underestimated us. Maybe we underestimated ourselves."
Natalski, who was joined by John Bornman and keeper Bill Foos (15 saves) in turning back the Whitman offense, set up the Gators' second goal by Alan Batac. Batac collected Natalski's direct kick, which slammed off the post to right of keeper Alonzo Gaviria (11 saves), and pounded it in before the Gaviria could recover.
"I just caught it on my chest, saw him [Gaviria] in the middle, and ripped it to his left," said Batac.
Whitman's Josh Anderson scored in the game's sixth minute, and again with about 10 minutes left, but the Gators -- minus three starters including Brian Schekemeyer (ankle injury in the first half) -- would not fold.
It was a physically played game, with Perry Hall getting two yellow cards, and Whitman received three yellows and one red -- the latter on Mackenzie Warren with the Gators leading, 3-1.
The ejection came a few seconds after Capone had beaten Warren to a ball about 25 yards out and found McCarty streaking in on Gaviria for Perry Hall's last tally.