Perry Hall's 14th-ranked boys soccer team fell victim to Pele last night.
Magruder senior striker Pele Paelay scored a remarkable game-winning goal with just 26 seconds remaining to drop the Gators to a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat in the Class 4A state championship game before an estimated 2,000 fans at UMBC.
The goal, which gave the Montgomery County school its first state title in boys soccer, was Paelay's 19th of the season, eighth of the playoffs and his fourth game-winner in five playoff games.
With the score tied, 2-2, in the final minute and Paelay with the ball 2 yards inside the penalty area's left side, three Perry Hall backs moved to defend against him. But he quickly turned and struck a solid right-footed ball that ricocheted high off the far post and into the net.
"I knew it wasn't good when there is a guy that talented coming in at the net," said Perry Hall senior goalkeeper Ian MacDonald, who was the hero of the Gators' semifinal, shootout victory over High Point.
"He just hit an absolutely perfect shot," MacDonald said. "The only way he could have beaten me was to hit the pole, and he did it. I don't know how, but he did it."
Perry Hall (14-4), whose strength all season has been defense, had done an excellent job of marking Paelay. His only serious opportunity before the end came in the 35th minute, when he drove a shot from 20 yards that beat MacDonald. But senior midfielder Matt Pszcolka kicked the ball off the goal line to keep the game scoreless.
From there, Paelay, who also started on Magruder's 27-0, Class 4A state championship basketball team last season, did not create much until it counted the most.
"He just made a great individual effort," said Perry Hall coach Brian Moen, whose team had allowed just 12 goals this season before last night. "It was just a phenomenal move. ... He couldn't have placed the ball any better. The way Ian was playing, I think anywhere else and he would have had his hand on that. ... What can I say? They deserved to win."
Magruder (14-2-1), the Washington area's top-ranked team, outshot Perry Hall 18-10 and had an 8-1 advantage in corner kicks. But despite holding the edge in play, it was the Gators who scored first.
After a scoreless first half, senior midfielder Dale Scrimger fed senior forward Marin George, who poked the ball past Magruder keeper Jake Panek in the 52nd minute to give the Gators a 1-0 lead.
Four minutes later, the Colonels tied it, when Brian Wendel beat MacDonald from close range off a long free kick. Senior forward Will Talesnick then gave Magruder a 2-1 lead in the 64th minute, shooting off-balance from 17 yards following a corner kick from Micael Esders.
Perry Hall, which is now 0-2 in state championship games, got the equalizer in the 70th minute, thanks to senior midfielder Joe Morowski, who turned a feed from Scrimger past Panek to the near post.
But with the game seemingly headed into overtime, Paelay dramatically ended the season.
"I saw the goal, and I wasn't going to pass it," he said. "I was going to hit it right in. I saw that whole part of the goal open. I didn't even look back to see if it went in. I was celebrating before it went in."
Magruder 3, Perry Hall 2
Goals: M-B. Wendel, Talesnick, Paelay; PH-George, MorowskiAssists: M-Marzolf, Esders; PH-Scrimger 2; Saves: M-Panek 3, PH-MacDonald 5. Halftime: 0-0.