McDonogh coach Steve Nichols feared playing a taller, more physical team on a narrow field, and that fear turned into reality yesterday at No. 2-ranked Mount Hebron.
The Vikings upset the No. 1 Eagles, 3-2, in a highly emotional and physical game, much of which was played in the air where the much taller Vikings had the edge.
All three Mt. Hebron goals were scored off headers, two of them by 6-foot-4 Matt White and one by Mike Glancey.
White's second goal that tied the score at 2-2 with 19:20 to play completely changed the game's momentum.
When Vikings goalkeeper Greg Peters lined up 60 yards away to take a free kick aimed at White, who was standing at the 6-yard line, McDonogh held a one-goal lead and seemed in control.
A few seconds later, White headed in Peters' kick, two key McDonogh players - goalkeeper Joe Pietrapolli and defensive leader Doug Kurz - were red-carded for complaining to an official and Mt. Hebron was in control.
McDonogh had to play the remaining 19 minutes, 20 seconds with nine players, eventually surrendering the game-winning goal with 5:25 to play on Glancey's header off Jeff Wunk's long throw-in. Mt. Hebron's Steve Swiech was also ejected with a second yellow card in the 76th minute.
"I was disappointed with the officiating, but we decided the game with our immaturity," Nichols said. "If we had stayed 11-on-11, we would have won. This was a good lesson for us. We'll hold our composure better the next time."
The defeat dropped McDonogh to 8-2 while Mt. Hebron improved to 4-1. It was Mt. Hebron's first victory ever over the Eagles.
Wunk played a major role in the victory by marking McDonogh's leading scorer, the almost irrepressible Kaiser Chowdhry, who has 16 goals and nine assists for the season. Chowdhry was held to one goal when he headed in a corner kick in the 49th minute despite being double-teamed. That goal gave McDonogh a 2-1 lead.
Wunk and Chowdhry each drew a yellow card as they engaged in their own mini-war.
"The first three steps he absolutely flies," Wunk said. "You have to get him out of his mind frame and make him fight the refs. You can't play scared against him or he'll take it to the goal and score every time."
Defending Class 2A state champion Mt. Hebron scored with 3:01 left in the first half, when White headed a ball to the far post off a cross from Jimmy Elliott. But McDonogh scored with a minute left on a penalty kick by Lance Staib after White was called for a foul in the box.
Glancey had three unsuccessful scoring chances before his game-winner, including a one-on-one with backup keeper Matt Finkelstein.
"This win shows the strength of Howard County soccer," Vikings coach Jeff Doolan said. "We want to move on to our county schedule and win another state title."