In the past three years, goals had been hard to come by when the C. Milton Wright and Towson boys soccer teams met in the Class 3A North title game.
Senior Ryan Belfiore and the No. 4 Mustangs had another plan Wednesday night in Bel Air.
The All-Metro forward scored three minutes into the game and finished with four goals as the defending state champions claimed a 5-1 win over the No. 6 Generals.
C. Milton Wright (13-2) will face City – a 1-0 winner over Huntingtown in the South final — in Saturday’s state semifinal game at Linganore at 5 p.m. Towson closed its season with a 12-2-2 mark.
In the region title games in 2015 and 2016, the Mustangs and Generals played 100 scoreless minutes with each advancing once on penalty kicks. Last season, C.M. Wright claimed a 1-0 win on a goal midway through the second half and ended up winning the program’s first state crown.
On Wednesday, Belfiore pounced on a ball sent in by Ryan Lindsey and one-timed a shot from 14 yards that found the far post for a 1-0 lead in the third minute.
When he headed home Ethan Dolezal’s corner kick with 24:25 to play in the first half, C.M. Wright had a 3-1 lead and was on its way to another state tournament appearance. Pressuring opponents and using their skill and speed up front with controlled long balls, the Mustangs are playing their best in the postseason, outscoring three opponents a combined 13-2 to win the North.
“Generally, we got guys that put defenders in tough spots and they have to make quick decisions. It’s tough on them and we get rewarded with scoring chances,” C. Milton Wright coach Brian Tully said. “Right now, things are coming together. This group isn’t complacent. They’ve been hungry all year and they want this really badly, so they’re pushing for it. We know we can create scoring chances, we’ve been able to all year, so it’s just a matter of taking care of not giving up too many scoring chances.”
The Generals played hard throughout, tying the game at 1 when Nicholas Lewis scored on a heavy, knuckling shot from 35 yards less than two minutes after Belfiore’s opening goal, but the Mustangs had too much speed and skill to match.
Jayson Butler quickly gave C.M. Wright the lead again when he tucked a shot inside the far post from 10 yards with 30:44 left in the first half.
Belfiore closed the scoring with two more goals in the second half. After the game, he was focused on the task ahead with the Mustangs two wins away from repeating as champions.
“It’s going to take the whole team, from the goalie to our forwards — just teamwork, keeping our confidence up and finishing chances like we have,” he said.
Having a younger and less-experienced team this season, Towson coach Randy Dase was quick to credit the Mustangs while applauding his team’s effort.
“I just told my kids they left their passion on the field, they worked hard and they probably just ran against the best high school soccer team among public schools in Maryland. So we’re very proud of our kids. We came up here and gave everything they had and [C. Milton Wright] is just a phenomenal ball club.”
Goals: T — Lewis; CMW — Belfiore 4, Butler Assists: CMW — Lindsey 2, Dolezal, Appleby Saves: T — Fong 7; CMW — Hetrick 4, Tritto 1 Half: CMW, 3-1