- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
BALTIMORE The first half of the Huntingtown boys soccer team’s Class 3A state semifinal game against Reservoir looked extremely promising.
The second half? Not so much.
Huntingtown (13-5 overall) opened the scoring, but then allowed five unanswered goals, three in the second half, and the Gators from Howard County cruised to the state championship game with a 5-1 win over the Hurricanes on Saturday at The Community College of Baltimore County-Essex.
“It's a rough end, but I want us to focus on the positive so the guys will get back here next year,” Huntingtown head coach Rob Martin said. “But to focus on the positive, we’re the first [Huntingtown boys] team to [get to states]. I just reminded the guys that the first day of next season already started. We have to work harder. We have to do everything more and better. I told the boys we’ll get back here again and do things better.”
“I’m proud of every single one of them,” Huntingtown senior midfielder Michael Thompson said. “It took a lot to get here, but [the boys] just have to work hard to come back next year.”
The Gators (13-6 overall) won the 2010 state championship.
“We’re pretty pumped,” said Reservoir senior Javier Wardcantrori, who scored twice against the Hurricanes. “We’ve been working hard all year and we have just one more game at UMBC.”
Huntingtown opened the scoring, but Reservoir scored twice within a six-minute span just past the midway point of the half and then added a third goal two minutes into the second half.
“That's a very tough team we ran into today,” Martin said of Reservoir, which used its blazing speed down the sidelines to set up chances inside.
Making their first appearance at the state level since the school opened in the fall of 2004, the Hurricanes grabbed the early lead when Perry Burgess took a crossing pass from Thompson and drilled a low shot past Reservoir goalkeeper Braulio Linares in the 13th minute.
“What coach [Kevin] Streete was helping me in in practice was making bent runs from their sweeper, stay on them and do a circle and as soon as I did that, we scored,” Burgess said. “But we got cocky after that.”
“We thought we had exposed something there,” Martin said. “It was a defensive lapse on their part and [Burgess] finished. We thought we were on a roll with something good there.”
The goal was somewhat of a wakeup call for the Gators.
“I thought Huntingtown played great the first 10, 15 minutes and put it to us,” Reservoir head coach Reg Hahne said. “The goal they scored was a beautiful goal and I was very concerned. Nothing against Northern, but they’re not the same team I saw play against Northern [in the Class 3A South final]. I’m very impressed with their development at the ball, especially with their passing. We had to adjust and we did.”
Reservoir knotted the game at 1 in the 26th minute when Mike Peprah sent a header to the far side and Nick Jobst slammed it home. Just six minutes later, Wardcantrori’s diving header made it 2-0.
“It was difficult,” Huntingtown senior forward Zach Nega said of the Gators grabbing the lead, “but I really thought we could hang in there.”
Huntingtown had a great chance at the end of the half to tie the game when Burgess sent Keith Merriman in alone on a breakaway but time elapsed before Merriman could get a shot off.
“The referees stopped it here and there and we’re not used to that,” Martin said of the time on the clock being the official time. “I think [a goal] that would have carried on. Ifs and butts, right?”
Two minutes into the second half, John Lopes picked up a loose ball, dribbled around Huntingtown goalkeeper Reis Richardson and midfielder Marcus Reid and made it 3-1, which was, according to Nega, “the nail in the coffin.”
“Speed, movement off the ball. Every time one guy had the ball, he had two, three options,” Martin said of why the Gators were so good. “You get to the point where you start counting players out there to make sure it’s 11 [and not more].”
“We just wanted to keep possession and try and spread them out,” Huntingtown senior defender Patrick Wilkerson said, “but they were pretty fast; a team like this isn’t even in SMAC.”
Huntingtown senior Devin Rediker added, “They were obviously the better team today and the scoreboard showed that.”
Reservoir added two more goals in the 54th and 74th minutes, respectively.
“We were able to start dominating more as the game went on because we have some fast boys and some very skilled players and they started showing that, especially the last 20 minutes of the game,” Hahne said. “We have a ton of speed on the outside and on the inside as well. It’s hard to keep up with our boys, they’re fast. Not all skillful, but fast and they drive to the goal.”
Though the loss stings, the Hurricanes “probably the best team I’ve ever played with,” according to senior Thomas Moore are already looking ahead to next season.
“I thought we had a really good season,” Nega said, “and hopefully it will set the tone for seasons to come.”
“We took the program somewhere it’s never been before,” senior Alex McComb said, “and I really think we started a trend for Huntingtown that will follow for years to come.”