When the No. 1 McDonogh boys soccer team is playing rival St. Paul's and in desperate need of a goal, it knows who to turn to: junior defender Michael DeShields.
With the game scoreless in the final minutes of the second overtime on Wednesday, DeShields made his way in front of the Crusaders' goal to find a corner kick sent in by Tunde Akinlosotu. DeShields got a little higher than No. 5 St. Paul's goalie Conor Brown, heading home the game-winner with 3:54 left for a 1-0 win.
In last year's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship game, DeShields did the same thing to give the Eagles the crown with less than one minute in regulation.
DeShields' latest finish was a huge sigh of relief for the Eagles, as they remained undefeated at 12-0 and 10-0 in conference play. They controlled the game from the onset and had countless chances, but were unable to score against the determined Crusaders, who committed extra players in the back and executed their game plan well.
"We couldn't finish and really knew the only way we were going to score was on a free kick or corner kick because their defense was playing pretty solid. So Tunde put a good one in for me and I just beat the keeper on a header and put it in," said DeShields, who now has two goals on the season.
Before DeShields' late heroics, it looked like a different deva vu was taking place. Last year, the Eagles had won 18 straight games before meeting St. Paul's for the second time in the regular season and the Crusaders played them to a 3-3 draw. It looked as if McDonogh's chance at a perfect season would once again be spoiled.
The Crusaders (7-3-1, 6-3-1) got 11 saves from Brown and tireless defensive work from everybody to keep the game scoreless. After Brown turned away a point-blank shot from McDonogh forward Marc VandenBerg with 2:35 to play in the first 10-minute overtime period, it looked like the game may be meant to end in a draw. DeShields made sure that wouldn't happen.
The Eagles came into the game having scored 44 goals in their first 11 games.
"It's a tough thing with our sport sometimes — possession and having the ball doesn't necessarily mean you're going to score. You've got to stick to it and keep trusting in what you're doing. You need to keep pushing and keep being aggressive," McDonogh coach Brandon Quaranta said. "It's character-building and us being in this situation and finding a way to win is going to help us down the line.
"We know there are going to be tight games in the second half of the season and in the playoffs where we need to find a way to pull out, so today helps us in that regard."
Fatigue and disappointment took over the Crusaders following the game, but coach Majid Mirza ordered his players to keep their heads high.
"We can take a lot from the game," he said. "I was a little concerned my boys wouldn't stick to the plan, but they did. They all did their job, they stuck to their roles, helped each other and it really showed."
1 McDonogh 1, 5 St. Paul's 0 (2OT)
Goals: M -- DeShields
Assists: M -- Akinlosotu
Saves: SP – Brown 11; M – Black 3.