The No. 1 River Hill boys soccer team has won eight state championships over the years by getting to the ball first, making the most of its scoring chances and having the fierce ability to put opponents away.
Yesterday at Marriotts Ridge, it was the No. 3 Mustangs' turn to use those tactics.
With two goals from Patrick Sullivan, a late insurance goal from Michael Glazer and poised play most of the way, Marriotts Ridge came away with a sturdy 3-1 win over defending Class 2A state champion River Hill in Howard County play.
In defeating River Hill for the first time in the program's three-year existence, the Mustangs improved to 9-0 overall and 8-0 in Howard County. The Hawks (7-1-1) fell to 4-1-1 in league play.
"One of the things we talked about was go out and enjoy it. This is a big game, and some of these guys never really played in a big game. Play hard and know this is where we want to be. We want to be playing in games like this," Marriotts Ridge coach Kevin Flynn said.
The home team controlled play early in the first half and was rewarded in the 21st minute when Sullivan headed home a long throw-in from Lowell Safren for a 1-0 halftime lead.
After the Mustangs withstood some pressure from the Hawks in the opening minutes of the second half, Sullivan scored the eventual game-winner when he cut back on a defender before firing a left-footed shot from 15 yards that found the left side of the goal in the 47th minute. After the Hawks cut the lead to 2-1 on a goal from Corey Krewson with 18 minutes to play, the Mustangs stayed organized in back and then added an insurance goal when Glazer scored in front with less than 10 minutes to play.
"I'm just feeling really good right now - excited we won," Sullivan said.