Glenelg midfielder Tyler Reiff made a statement with his play on the field against visiting Marriotts Ridge on Friday night, but he also made another trotting toward the sideline after scoring his fifth goal midway through the fourth quarter: “It’s takeover season.”
For good measure, Reiff scored his sixth goal less than three minutes later and finished the evening with eight points to lead the Gladiators to a 13-6 victory to remain undefeated at 3-0 in Howard County and 6-0 overall.
“We’re just trying to take over the county,” said Reiff, who scored five of his goals in the second half to help Glenelg pull away after leading the Mustangs, 5-4, at halftime. “Last year, I think we had a good team but we were just not quite there to take over the county yet. But I think this is our year. This is our year to take it all the way.”
It was Reiff’s night to lead the dynamic Glenelg offense on this particular night, but the Gladiators have as much depth as any team in the league.
Michael Doughty, who scored the first goal of the second half to spark a run of four unanswered goals, has had at least three points in all six games and has 11 goals and 20 assists to lead the team in points. Tyler Nalls found the net twice, including the first goal of the night, and has 14 goals. Eric Gruber scored midway through the first quarter to give Glenelg a 2-1 lead that it wouldn’t relinquish and now has 11 goals total and at least one in every game. Ryan Hopkins had two goals and an assist to push his point total on the year to 15.
But no Glenelg player has as many goals as Reiff, who increased his total to 20 and has four games with at least three goals. The junior found the net on six of his eight shots.
“Some of those goals you’re going, ‘No, no, no, wait, yes, that’s a great job, Tyler,’” Gladiators coach Josh Hatmaker said. “He works his tail off. He’s an old-school midfielder that doesn’t mind running through contact. There are a lot of guys out there who will take a check and pull the ball out and kick the ball down the wing, but he’ll run right through sticks. ... That’s the type of kid he is. He’s tough, he’s old school and he’s got that extra gear also.”
The Mustangs (1-2, 6-2) saw their six-game winning streak come to an end. Troy Hettinger had a trio of goals, Brett Gladstone had two, and Luke Ingersoll had a goal and two assists.
“We had to value possession and we didn’t really value possessions,” Marriotts Ridge coach Tony Incontrera said. “They forced us into some really tough spots and they took advantage of them. They’re a very opportunistic team.”
The difference ultimately proved to be the runs Glenelg strung together late in the first quarter and early in the third. The Gladiators led by one when Reiff registered his first tally with 2 minutes, 13 seconds left on the clock to make it 3-1, and they capitalized on their next two possessions as well. Hopkins scored with 1:37 left, and Johnny Chaisson scooped up a groundball cleanly and took it to goal and scored just eight seconds later. Just like that, it was a 5-1 Glenelg lead.
The Mustangs, however, grinded their way back into the game. They slowed the pace in the second quarter and chipped away at the deficit, first with a goal by Gladstone with 10:08 remaining in the half. They kept the Gladiators offense in check and then scored two more goals 46 seconds apart late in the frame on tallies by Hettinger and Ingersoll. All three goals were assisted.
“I felt like we were patient with the ball and were working for the shot we wanted and not that first shot that was there for us,” Incontrera said.
But Glenelg broke loose in the third quarter and scored on each of its first four shots in the span of 4:03 to extend its lead to 9-4. The first three goals all came in transition and the last wasn’t a particularly extended possession, either.
“We like to get out and run. That’s the thing, we like transition, we like scramble type of stuff and we’ve got good athletes and guys who can shoot the ball,” Hatmaker said. “The biggest thing is we have guys that are not just pure dodgers, so you’ve got to play a guy a certain way if he can do both things and dodge with your head up. ... We like momentum swings, we try to get that going as much as possible.”
Reiff scored the first two goals of the fourth quarter and the first three for the Gladiators to put the game out of reach.
It’s a disappointing loss for the defending county champion Mustangs, who lost their second county game — the other a 5-3 defeat at Howard on opening night March 23. Incontrera said that he doesn’t expect this to be the only meeting for the 2A schools.
“This is a very humbling experience for us,” Incontrera said. “We still have high expectations the rest of the season. We know it’s April and we fully expect to see this game again in May.”
Glenelg (3-0 county, 6-0 overall) — 13, Marriotts Ridge (1-2, 6-2) — 6
Goals: G — Tyler Reiff 6, Tyler Nalls 2, Ryan Hopkins 2, Eric Gruber, Michael Doughty, Johnny Chaisson; MR — Troy Hettinger 3, Brett Gladstone 2, Luke Ingersoll
Assists: G — Reiff 2, Doughty 2, Hopkins, Justin Silk; MR — Peter Geier 2, Charlie Reynolds, Ingersoll
Saves: G — Robbie Noyes 10; MR — Colin Kelley 9
Halftime: 5-4, Glenelg