Business as usual. Just another game.
That's the strategy first-year Mount Hebron coach Jeff Doolan chose to get his squad ready for the Class 2A state championship game yesterday at UMBC.
And in the end it work.
David Lechtrecker (27 goals, eight assists), the Vikings' leading scorer, headed in the winning goal with 9:45 left to play and No 5-ranked Mount Hebron held on to defeat James M. Bennett, 1-0, to capture its first state title in its first state playoff appearance.
"We didn't talk about winning the state title this week in practice because I was afraid of getting them too fired up and having them come in here in awe," said first-year coach Doolan. "Hopefully this will finally get us noticed outside the county."
Mount Hebron (16-3) had lost to eventual state champion River Hill in the Class 2A region final the past two seasons.
At first, Doolan's strategy backfired as Bennett (18-2) produced three dangerous scoring opportunities in the first half, twice narrowly missing high and once hitting the post.
"We were flat the first 10 minutes and didn't play our game in the first half," said Doolan, who substituted sparingly, using 13 players "At halftime we emphasized playing more high pressure and not giving them time to settle."
Most of the game was played in the midfield, where Mount Hebron had standout Matt White. "We won a lot more balls in the second half and that helped us out but they were a good team," White said.
Lechtrecker's goal began with a throw-in by Jeff Wunk. White flicked the ball to Lechtrecker at the back post. He had made his run from the 15-yard line and headed the ball down to the ground and in. The Clippers had 13 shutouts and had allowed seven goals this season until Lechtrecker's score.
"I just squeaked through," Lechtrecker said "It's a great feeling to win a state title. This game was the most nerve-wracking of the season."
The Vikings, who started just two seniors, produced their 13th shutout behind goalkeeper Greg Peters and sweeper Christian Chacon.
"I didn't expect a team that good to come out of the Eastern Shore," Peters said.
Bennett produced two scoring opportunities in the closing minutes but the Clippers were off target on their shots.
"We knew we had to pick it up on defense in the second half," said Chacon "It definitely got intense the last 10 minutes."
Said Bennett coach Skip Ruark: "The pace was fine and Andrew Meeks did a good job on 17 (Lechtrecker), but we were unlucky."
* Oakland Mills 2, Williamsport 0: The No. 2-ranked Scorpions won their 10th state title in their 11th state final appearance - the most state titles by any school. And they repeated as Class 1A state champs, posting a two-year record of 34-3-1.
The victory over Williamsport of Washington County gave Howard County schools their third state title this season, a feat also accomplished by Howard County in 1997. River Hill won 3A and Mount Hebron won 2A. The Howard County domination was so complete that none of those three schools gave up a goal during the entire playoffs this season.
Last night's game matched up the same two finalists as last season when Oakland Mills won, 4-1. This time Williamsport (19-2) tried a new strategy by going with one forward and five midfielders during the first half.
The strategy didn't work, since Oakland Mills led 1-0 at halftime after scoring in the 16th minute on a 6-yard kick by Jeremy Catlin who was assisted by Jeremy Berndt. The play started on a long throw-in by Brian Grund.
Oakland Mills (18-1-1) was tested in the first half when goalkeeper Chris Ebeling made one terrific save on a shot that was well-struck.