Hawks rally past No. 5 Mount Hebron behind Harris to stay perfect in boys' soccer (VIDEO HERE!!)
by Derek Toney
River Hill High boys' soccer coach Matt Shagogue said Justin Harris has a quiet persona. In a statement match for the Hawks Thursday, Harris provided the exclamation point.
No. 3 River Hill defeated fifth-ranked Mount Hebron, 2-1, in a Howard County battle of unbeaten squads in Clarksville. Harris accounted for both goals for the Hawks.
Trailing for the first time this fall, River Hill answered in the final 40 minutes to move to 5-0 (2-0 Howard). Mount Hebron, which received a tally from Jimmy Linsenmeyer, fell to 3-1-1 (2-1 Howard).
"The effort was much better. I thought defensively we played pretty well," said Shagogue. "We easily could've folded. We were up on them for about 60 minutes last year, 1-0, and gave it back in the last five. Being able to close it out this time was huge."
Harris, a three-year letterwinner, was the closer Thursday. In the 50 minute, Harris got a tight through ball from Alex Smedley and one-touched into the corner of the net.
The Hawks maintained their work rate as Alex Krause got a ball from mate on the end line. Krause got around his defender and sent the ball across the box to Harris, who knocked into the upper corner.
"Coach was really getting on us in the locker room. We really had to pick up the intensity in the second half," said Harris. "We hadn't trailed all season this was a very important game."
River Hill last defeated its Ellicott City rivals in 2015. Last year, Mount Hebron rallied for a 1-1 tie after winning in 2016 (1-0).
The 2016 decision was the Vikings' first over River Hill since 2009. Thursday, Mount Hebron stained River Hill's defensive clean sheet as freshman Jimmy Linsenmeyer scored off a feed from Sebastian Tobar in the 28th minute.
Mount Hebron coach Mike Linsenmeyer said a couple of injuries made his squad vulnerable in the second half.
"They exposed us really opening up and getting wide on us," said Linsenmeyer. "They ran at us and we didn't have the fitness to deal with it."
The Vikings had to contend with Harris, who's improved his stamina and physicality from last season.
Shagogue said Harris leads by example.
"He's been a very good player, but this year he's taken it to a next gear," said Shagogue. "He's been scoring regularly and changing games. He's worked incredibly hard for this opportunity and he's not shying away."
Harris, one of seven seniors, is motivated to get to River Hill back to the Class 2A state final after losing to Eastern Tech.
"We have a lot of players with experience who can coach the younger players," said Harris. "It's a great mix and it's working well."
No. 3 River Hill 2, No. 5 Mount Hebron 1
Mount Hebron 1 0 - 1
River Hill 1 1 - 2
Goals: Mount Hebron - J. Linsenmeyer; River Hill - Harris
Assists: Mount Hebron - Tobar; River Hill - Smedley, Krause
Saves: Mount Hebron - Carguillo 4; River Hill - Sherlock 2