A few hours after Patterson Mill won its first-ever state title in boys soccer, C. Milton Wright won its second consecutive title at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex on Saturday.
The Mustangs (15-2) knocked off an equally talented and tough Zadok Magruder High School club, 2-1, for the Class 3A state championship.
Two mishaps by Magruder inside its own 18-yard box led to both CMW goals.
"We felt confident coming into the game that if we played the way we wanted to play, that we'd create opportunities,” Mustangs coach Brian Tully said. “To be completely honest, we don't think we really played as sharp as we’re capable of, but we showed some grit, some determination. To kind of not be at our best and still find a way to win the game. So a lot of credit to these guys.”
The game was a battle of two equally matched teams and the winning goal came with 23:46 left in the game off a mistake.
The Mustangs took a free kick with junior defender Ryan Lindsey placing a nice ball into the box. Magruder goalie JC Cortez came off his line for the ball, but the ball was headed by a teammate back over his head and toward the goal.
"Ryan Lindsey sent a decent ball in that their team had to make a play on and it didn't go their way and it just tipped back,” CMW senior forward Conner Appleby said. “I was able to knock it towards the goal. I mis-hit it and the keeper put it in himself.”
Over the remaining 23-plus minutes, CMW had to hold off a persistent Magruder attack. “We saw every couple minutes they’d have a man, they always had an extra man come up, so we dropped back,” Mustangs senior defender Jacob Spurlock said. “We saw that they just played the long ball so one of us, me and Josh Witte, one of us stepped and the other shifted back behind, so they couldn't get the through ball in.”
The Colonels (16-4) lone goal came just 3:55 into the second half. A free kick awarded just outside the box and to the right of the Mustangs goal. The ball was played across the goal where Chris Juarez controlled it and drilled back past CMW goalie Zach Hetrick for the goal.
Too, much of the time throughout the game, it was the defense of CMW that controlled play and it was notable. “Their defenders were really like up in our backs a lot of the times,” Magruder senior forward Tiago Silva (16 goals, 4 assists) said. “Most of the season, and throughout playoffs, I was able to have space up top to hold it, maybe turn, get a pass to the side or dribble. But today, their defenders were really up on my back and they forced me to make a couple of errors, unfortunately.”
Teammate Ifreke Jacob, a senior defender, echoed Silva’s remarks. “Their defense, solid. This was the type of game where both teams got three or four chances,” he said. “And it was about whoever took their chances and today the other team took their chances.”
That defense is Spurlock, senior Josh Witte, junior Nick Dunstan-Maiese and junior Ryan Lindsey.
Mustangs goalie Hetrick made just two saves, but it was his second that loomed large with the game tied at 1. Magruder senior Evan Koehn sent a hard shot toward the top of the Mustangs goal, with 29:00 left, where Hetrick made a leap to push the ball over the goal. The subsequent corner kick was headed harmlessly wide.
"He [Hetrick] continued throughout the season, he got stronger and more confident,” Tully said. “As these guys showed that they believed in him in his ability to make saves when he had to, he comes through and he makes saves in big moments."
The other Mustangs goal, which was scored late in the first half, came by penalty kick after a hand ball violation against Magruder was called.
CMW senior Jayson Butler took the penalty kick and blasted a high shot into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead. “I just hit it in the left spot every time,” Butler said.
CMW’s first true offensive push came nearly five minutes into play. Ryan Belfiore’s run down the left side produced a tough angle shot, saved by Cortez (four saves).
The Mustangs were awarded a corner kick, which led to an Ethan Dolezal shot that never reached the goal. A subsequent free throw found Appleby just inside the 18, but his shot sailed over the goal.
Magruder’s Josue Barrera hit a hard shot from 30 yards out with 28:50 left in the first half, but it, too, sailed high.
Hetrick did thwart a Magruder run with 18:00 left in the first half. Hetrick charged out of the box to clear the ball away, just as the Magruder attacker was getting to it.
With 5:00 left in the opening half, Diego Meza had his close shot sail high.
“This is a great group of guys, they bought into everything we've asked them to do,” Magruder coach David Edlow said. “I think they’ve left their mark.”
Reach Randy McRoberts on twitter. @aegissports