Oakland Mills longtime boys soccer coach Don Shea, who turned 64 on Tuesday, hasn’t lost many games when they've happened on his birthday.
On Tuesday, there was one on the schedule that was much more special, when Wilde Lake and its first-year coach, Shea’s son, Trevor, visited in a highly-anticipated family affair.
It turns out, Don Shea taught his son well.
The Wildecats set the tone with an early goal, protected the advantage with strong goalie play from Gerald Van Tassel and some good fortune, and then added an insurance goal in the closing minutes to pull out a 2-0 win over the Scorpions.
Despite the rare birthday loss, Don Shea took it in stride. He recalled a big win over then-No. 1 River Hill when Trevor, then a standout player for the Scorpions, scored the winning goal. Both nights, he left proud of his son.
"Some days you get the bear and some days the bear gets you," Don Shea said. "All his [players]know me from soccer camp and they were walking through the line all saying 'happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday.'"
Don Shea is in his 35th season coaching high school boys soccer in Maryland. He's captured nine state titles and well over 300 wins. He spent his first 10 years at Elkton, winning one state crown there before claiming eight more in his first 18-year stint at Oakland Mills. He stepped down in 2003 and then returned in 2010 largely to be alongside Trevor, who was the Scorpions' junior varsity coach for seven years before taking over at Wilde Lake.
On Tuesday, plenty of alumni were in attendance and as they rolled into the stadium. Don Shea quipped "Is this Alumni Day?' to which one replied 'It's the Super Bowl.'
In the game's seventh minute, Denzel Pinyen headed home a long throw from Kevin Comeaux to give the Wildecats (5-3-1) a 1-0 lead. The Scorpions (3-6) created chances to find the equalizer — most coming off long throws from sophomore Darbouzeson Cassues — but Van Tassel proved sturdy in goal and one shot went off the crossbar and another hit the post. With the Scorpions pushing forward late in the game, Nick David scored on a counter to secure the win with less than two minutes to play.
"It's awesome to just have that experience because not everybody gets to have that," said Trevor Shea, a 2001 Oakland Mills grad who won three straight state titles as a player with his father at the helm. "I'm glad that it wasn't in too much of a pressure game, so we were relaxed. Sometimes, it's better to be lucky than good. I think tonight we were probably more lucky that they were."
Don Shea gave Trevor and the Wildecats their due credit.
"I thought both teams competed very, very well," he said. "His kids played very well and I think they knew the importance of the game. We, on the other hand, have a very young team.
At the end of the big day, Don Shea had plenty to be proud of. In the girls game played earlier, his daughter, Megan, also a first-year coach at Wilde Lake, came away with a 7-0 win over the Scorpions.
So was it still a happy birthday?
"Yeah. No problem," said Shea with a smile.
Wilde Lake 2, Oakland Mills 0
Goals: WL – Pinyen, David
Assists: WL – Comeaux
Saves: WL – Van Tassel 6; OM – Baldwin 8
Half: WL, 1-0