Amazing River Hill could have been the first school to win a state soccer title during its inaugural season. But it didn't happen yesterday at Old Mill's Bob Golliday Memorial Field.
"The team and I feel kind of empty right now -- kind of like that cartoon character where they shoot the bowling ball through you," River Hill coach Bill Stara said after his team's 2-1 loss to Williamsport of Washington County in the Class 1A state championship game.
Stara, who had coached Centennial to seven state titles before switching schools this season, said he started feeling unlucky when forward Billy Allen got in deep and his kick bounced off the left post in the seventh minute.
That feeling continued through the game, capped off in the 78th minute when Adom Crew had a breakaway and was pulled down from behind in the penalty area, a foul that should have resulted in a penalty kick. But no call was made.
"He [Clayton Llewellyn] pulled me by my shorts. I'm pretty sure I would have scored," said Crew, a freshman striker who scored River Hill's goal off a deflection in the 59th minute to tie the game.
Greg Andra, a Williamsport midfielder, confirmed the uncalled foul. "I think Clayton pulled him down, but the ref wasn't in position to see it," Andra said.
Williamsport coach Stan Stouffer said: "They did things to us that weren't called, too."
Said Crew: "It feels real bad right now. I thought we were good enough to win it all this year, but we were unlucky. They got some breaks and the ball didn't bounce our way. We'll have to come back next year."
River Hill had no seniors and just four juniors.
Stouffer thought one key to victory was not allowing No. 8 River Hill (14-4) to get into its offense. "We wanted to control their keeper's punt by winning those balls, because they like to swarm to the right and work the end line and then cross it We broke that up. We knew we also had to step to the ball better and handle their pressure, and we did that pretty well. We figured if we scored early we had a shot to win."
This was the third straight time Williamsport's seniors had gone to the final four, and senior midfielder and captain Rusty Tritsch thought that made a difference.
"This was River Hill's first year, so we felt we had the edge coming into the game. I thought we were able to handle the pressure a little better," Tritsch said. "The big key was finishing. We got lucky and got a couple through."
Sophomore Matt Bowman (17 goals, 12 assists) scored Williamsport's first goal in the 49th minute, and assisted on the second one in the 61st minute.
Ritchie scored the game-winner down the left side, striking a shot inside the far post off a lead pass from Bowman. It was was Williamsport's 63rd goal this season."
The only other time Williamsport (14-1-1) won a state title was in 1979 -- the same year many of this team's seniors were born. And Stouffer was the coach that day also.
Stara said: "I'm proud of how we played, but there was really no flow to the game. It was glorified kickball. And we played poorly in some critical spots. There's nothing you can say or do. It wasn't meant to be."
Pub Date: 11/17/96