Ryan Konstanzer's long throw-in has become one of third-ranked Reservoir's most effective weapons this season, and it was the difference again in Friday night's Class 3A state championship at UMBC.
Two minutes into overtime against Northern-Calvert, Konstanzer rifled the ball to the head of 6-foot-4 Colin Bonner just outside the penalty area. Bonner flicked the ball to Jake Coccio, who headed the ball into the corner of the goal for a 1-0 victory.
"As soon as I saw it go out, I had that feeling," Konstanzer said. "I knew something was going to happen. I got over, and everyone was cheering. As soon as I backed up, I always look for Colin in the box. I toss it to him and let him do his stuff."
Since opening in 2002, Reservoir (15-3-1) has worked toward establishing itself as one of the premier high school soccer programs in the metro area. With their first state title in hand, the Gators have taken another step toward that goal this season. The girls team also won the state title Thursday night.
"It was a hard-fought game," Reservoir coach Paul Linkins said. "We came out a little flat, and Northern was just pushing and pushing. That [has] kind of been the story with us to sit back and take those hits early. We have a strong group of kids out there defensively."
Konstanzer set up two of his team's three goals off throw-ins in the semifinal against Linganore, and he nearly found Bonner again in the early part of the first half Friday.
Northern (17-2) practiced all week defending the throw, but it was helpless in the end.
"We saw them play the Linganore game when they scored two goals off throws," Northern coach John Rossi said. "We practiced it yesterday. We talked about it. We defended just like we would a corner kick. It's a dangerous weapon."
Jimmy Rager nearly gave the Gators the lead in 26th minute when he ran down a loose ball that caught Northern goalie Ryan Welp off his line, but his shot from 20 yards sailed over the cross bar. Welp then stopped Evan Heim from point-blank range in the 38th minute.
Northern had more success attacking in the second half with Andrew Lantz hitting the crossbar in the 46th minute.
The teams traded chances the rest of the way before Konstanzer set up the game-winner. Coccio was camped at the back post, anticipating Bonner's flick. It was Coccio's team-leading 13th goal of the season.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet, but I'm sure later tonight it will," Coccio said. "I'm sure this will mean something. I mean, this is the goal that won us the state championship."
Goals: R—Coccio. Assists: R—Bonner. Saves: R—Lombard 4; N—Welp 7. Half: 0-0