One play could have very well could have swung the momentum in the Class 1A boys soccer state championship match.
Despite the dominance Brunswick High School's boys soccer team displayed in the opening 15 minutes of Saturday's game, the Railroaders could have never planned for a missed penalty kick.
But that's what happened to the Railroaders' leading scorer, Drew Demich. A senior forward with great size and pace — Demich recorded 26 goals this fall — he placed his penalty kick well, but Washington goalkeeper Ryan Fries made a tremendous diving stop in the 17th minute.
In a state championship match, every missed opportunity is magnified.
But, for Brunswick it did not matter.
“Were we surprised he missed it? Yeah, we all were,” Railroaders coach Kenny Putnam said. “Drew is absolutely spot on. I'm not quite sure I've ever seen him miss one. But we stuck with it. We knew that there were goals here for us if we kept playing the way that we were.”
There sure were. In the second half, Demich scored goals like basketball players make shots.
He netted three goals in less than four minutes to help Brunswick (17-1-2) win its second state championship with a 7-2 rout of the Jaguars at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
“That's what great players do for you. They may miss one opportunity, but they come back and they're ready for the next one,” Putnam said of his forward's four-goal performance. “He's a goal-poacher. The first one he created just by working hard and digging it out and finishing the ball.”
Brunswick goalkeeper Ty Foltz half-jokingly made sure to thank Demich after the match.
“I have to thank Drew Demich also,” he said, “for scoring so many goals this year.”
Until the later stages of the match when Washington's Kyle Simpkins scored twice to break the shutout, Brunswick was suffocating on defense. Junior Anthony Lukens filled in for an injured Austin Sample and limited the touches awarded to Simpkins.
“To win a championship, you have to have players step up in places they don't normally play,” Putnam said. “Anthony came to me and said, 'Coach, I can do it,' and I said, 'OK, it's yours.' Anthony was fantastic the entire playoffs.”
The biggest stage in the sport was a familiar one to Brunswick. The Railroaders reached the state title match for the second time in three years after losing in 2010. Putnam said he also felt like last year's club had a chance to contend for a state title, but when the 2012 team tied Urbana in the Frederick County Championship earlier this season he knew he might have something special.
“I had a funny feeling about this group,” Putnam said. “I've worked with these guys for a long time, especially the seniors, since they've been in middle school. I know their mentality and their work rate and I knew they were going to come out and work for it this year.”
In addition to Demich's heroics, Costas Beauclair, JT Bergman and Brandon Feueherd all scored for Brunswick in a game where the Railroaders recorded seven goals or more for the sixth time this season.
Feueherd, a freshman midfielder, was still a little overwhelmed by the magnitude of the moment while addressing media at the postgame press conference.
“First year, it feels really good, actually,” he said. “Once we opened the flood gates scoring goals, we could score a bunch of them.”
At which point Putnam and the other players in the interview room (Demich, Lukens and Foltz) concurred: “The might be the most I've ever heard Brandon talk. It absolutely is.”
Now, however, Brunswick's player and coaches should have no problem finding something to talk about for years to come.
“It's nice to finally get it,” Demich said. “Back in 2010, it didn't feel as awesome as it does now. It's great to finally get it after four years.”