MPSSAA Soccer Finals Day 1
Oakdale won their second straight MPSSAA state championship on the strength of two goals from midfielder Brian Flatter, and their defense's fifth shutout in the playoffs. Making the Bears back to back state titles more impressive is that they won the titles in two different classifications, winning the 2A championship in 2014, and the 3A title this year.
Oakdale got the perfect start to the game when Bryce Currie's long throw in wasn't properly defended by C. Milton Wright, and found its way into the goal.
The Bears doubled their lead on an absolute wonder strike by Flatter. The left footed shot came from around 40 yards out and went right into the upper right corner of the Mustangs' goal.
Flatter also scored from a long range effort in last year's state championship.
"I knew they had a bad clearance and it kind of set up nicely for me," Flatter said. "I didn't really know what else to do, it didn't look like there were other options."
Early in the second half, Flatter struck again with a goal from outside the box, making it 3-0 in favor of Oakdale. This time on the right side of the field, Flatter was able to get the ball into the net despite a tight angle.
The Bears almost made it 4-0 six minutes later when Joe Gula's head connected with a Faltter corner kick, but his effort hit the post.
Oakdale's defense continued its excellent form from the postseason in recording the shutout. The Bears only allowed the Mustangs to take four shots, two of which required saves from goalkeeper Dakota Harich.
In six playoffs games, Oakdale allowed just one goal.
"We all compliment each other very well," Currie said. "We play to each other's strengths and weaknesses. We just know how to cover each other."
Despite having won a state title last year, this one is sweeter for the players.
"This championship is more for the program than this team. Last year was about the team we had that year," Harich said. "This one showed what we can do as a program and it gives us the credit at the state level of what we can really do."
Bel Air won their program's first state championship in penalty kicks. The Bobcats and Linganore were tied 0-0 through regulation and overtime before goalkeeper Andrea Sipos made two crucial saves in the shootout, as Bel Air made three to Linganore's 1.
"This is the first team I've ever had where in every game and every situation, I've never been worried because I know these girls are going to give everything they've got," head coach Josh Clemmer said. "They're so coachable and so malleable to what we want to do as a team, I've just always felt confident in them."
The first half was very cagey, with neither team creating any serious chances in the first 20 minutes. That changed with 15:11 left when Linganore's Elizabeth Coletti sprang Montanna Hill free with a beautiful through ball. Hill's shot was a good one, but Sipos tipped it over the bar.
Bel Air responded three minutes later with their best chance of the half. Gabby Encarnacion broke through the Linganore defense, but took a heavy touch on the ball, allowing Lancer goalkeeper Katelyn Duda to break up the play.
Bel Air came out more aggressive in the second half, and they got their first shot on target when Haley Seabolt let fire from outside the box just 5 minutes after the break.
A Colletti cross with 35:30 left in the second half was missed by Sipos, but Hill was pressured by the Bobcats and her shot from six yards out went wide.
With 11:19 left, Encarnacion was able to create some space for her just outside the box, but her shot went over the crossbar.
In overtime, both teams had excellent chances to break the deadlock. Juliana Portera had a shot loop over the bar, while Hill took on three defenders in the box, but her close range effort was saved by Sipos.
In the shootout, Bel Air didn't miss a shot while Linganore only made one of four. Sipos saved two, while another one was shot wide.
"I'm just relieved after four years of playing to get this championship," Portera said. "I feel like we've redeemed ourselves and we proved it with our undefeated season."
"I'm just so overwhelmed, this is the best season I've ever had and without my teammates, it wouldn't be possible," said Encarnacion.
|November 19th, 2015||By: Wick Eisenberg|