C. Milton Wright midfielder Adrian Gonzalez has a way of making his presence felt on the big stage. Thanks to a properly placed header, he’ll get to play on an even bigger one.
Gonzalez’s goal just 3:35 into the second half propelled the ninth-ranked Mustangs (13-3-1) to a 1-0 win over host No. 6 Mt. Hebron (12-2-1) in the Class 3A state quarterfinals.
The Mustangs advance to a state semifinal at Linganore High School in Frederick County on Nov. 13, where they will face Tuscarora, a 4-3 winner over Atholton. Game time is Saturday at noon.
C.M. Wright seemed to have a new energy coming out for the second half and began to play a lot more aggressively on offense. It didn’t take long for that to pay dividends, as forward Connor Lesniewski struck a perfectly placed ball onto Gonzalez’s head. He did the rest, beating Mt. Hebron goalie Logan Dunn for the lead.
“We’d noticed some holes in their defense in the first half, so we decided to start playing some balls over the top,” Gonzalez said. “I was able to sneak in behind the sweeper and the ball was right there.”
The host Vikings controlled much of the run of play in the first half, but just couldn’t cash in. The Mustangs began to use the offensive-mindedness of Mt. Hebron to their advantage early in the second half, getting to a lot of 50-50 balls that had eluded them in the first half.
“We spent the whole first half playing into the teeth of their defense,” CMW coach Brian Tully said. “In the second half, we started winning the second balls that they were winning in the first half, and getting to a lot more lose balls. It started to pay off for us, and we found Adrian with a header at the far post.”
After the goal, the Mustangs’ defense had to stand up to a barrage of shots from Mt. Hebron, which pushed almost everyone forward in an effort to tie the game.
The Vikings’ two best chances came late. The first came with 11:21 left when Lewis Hollander hit the crossbar from about 25 yards out. The ball ricocheted back into play, but the Mustangs were able to clear it. The second came just two minutes later, with 9:32 left, when Jimmy Linsenmeyer’s shot off a free kick hit the right post. Even as time expired, the Vikings were still attacking the goal and pressing for the equalizer.
“Our defense really stood up today,” Tully said. “I thought our [goalie] Jake [Adams] played well for us. He’s only a sophomore, but he’s an elite player. He played elite for us tonight.”
The win is another step for the Mustangs, who are looking to avenge a loss in the 2019 state championship (The state did not hold a state championship in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic).
Gonzalez, who is now a senior, said the quest for the title has been driving him this year.
“It felt good to score a goal at an important time like that,” he said. “I’ve been going all out this season so we can get back to where we need to be. This is just another step for us to get there.”
Goals: CMW – Gonzalez. Assists: CMW – Lesniewski. Saves: CMW – Adams, 12; MH – Dunn, 7. Halftime: 0-0.