Since the school’s first varsity season, it is hard to say that the Marriotts Ridge boys’ soccer team has had a “bad” year, but it is quite easy to say that they have been superb in their last three.
Playing to a state tournament appearance in 2008, they added to their resume with a state championship and 2009 and repeated their historical feat, Saturday, by beating the Liberty Lions for the 2010 2A state title, 1-0.
“We knew it was going to be a battle with Liberty. We play them every year and they are always well prepared and always play hard,” Mustang coach Kevin Flynn said. “I think we were in some ways lucky to weather the initial storm in the beginning of the game, and I’m real proud of how the boys settled down.
“We played hard and matched their intensity, and we got a great play for a goal.”
The lone score in the game came after the two teams battled for nearly a half-hour, and a missed cross from sophomore Jack Onslow turned out to be a blessing for the Mustang offense.
Onslow, crossing the ball from the right side to the center of the field, chipped the ball just over the head of leaping teammate senior Michael Glazer, but finding the foot of senior Patrick Sullivan to earn the Mustang’s their second consecutive state crown.
“He showed great composure and didn’t panic,” Sullivan said. “He put a great ball and Glazer went for it and it went over his head, and I was there for the finish.”
Marriotts Ridge was still 50 minutes away from their repeat title win, and the Liberty squad did nearly everything in its power to put a ball in the back of the net for a 1-1 tie, but the Mustang defense cleared pass after pass from the box and kept the shutout intact.
“Our offense does a great job every game,” senior defender Sang Lee said. “But this was a time for us to show them that [the defense] could do it.”
The defense certainly proved itself useful to the offense, clearing six second-half corners and allowing the Lions minimal shooting lanes at the goal.
In the true sense of “reloading” versus “rebuilding”, the Mustangs not only came into the 2010 season with a huge target on their backs as the reining state champions, but had to live up to expectations set by nine graduated seniors from the 2009 season.
“There were some doubts as to how we would do this back-to-back, but the seniors, these three in particular, just showed great leadership all year,” Flynn said of Glazer, Sullivan and Lee. “It is a testament to them that we got back here.”
“Last year was our first time being here, and it was a new experience and was definitely amazing,” Sullivan explained. “I think this one was better because we knew all the teams were coming for us, and I have enjoyed this team a lot.”
The Lions finished the season just one goal shy of the school’s second championship since 2005, and coach Todd Muschik is pleased with his boys’ effort on the pitch.
“I took over a very good program two years a go, and I think we are doing a pretty good job,” he said. “We are 27-8-1 in two years, and we had every opportunity to win today. We always do.
“Hopefully we can carry onwards. This is where we want to be every year, and if it isn’t, I’m not in the right job.”
“We wanted to be at the top and set that goal for ourselves,” Flynn said of a repeat championship. “We get to play big games, and, when you are at the top, you are every team’s biggest game. It helped us prepare for the playoffs because every team comes after us like it is a championship game, so we felt like we were playoff-ready when it came to it.”
Marriotts Ridge took on all comers in its 18-1 season, winning its third consecutive regional championship in search of their second year of state royalty.
“When we lost in the semis two years ago, the group that came back was so focused. We knew what it took to get that far, and from there it had just carried on,” Flynn said. “We prepared for every game and we didn’t look ahead to River Hill or anyone else on the schedule. The kids and the coaching staff take it every seriously because we know we have what it takes to get there, and to the kids it is worth all the effort.”
|Marriotts Ridge 1, Liberty 0|
MR-Moore 1; LIB-DeBani 7.