Great Mills Boys Soccer Looks to Cap Off Historic Run with State Championship
When the Great Mills boys soccer team takes the field at Loyola University's Ridley Athletic Complex this Saturday for the MPSSAA 3A state championship, the group won't just be making school history, but St. Mary's County history.
After beating Centennial 3-1 in the state semifinals, Great Mills became the first boys soccer team from St. Mary's County to qualify for a state final. The two other schools in St. Mary's County, Chopticon and Leonardtown, have both won regional titles during this millennium, but it's been a longer wait for Great Mills on that front. Before this season, the Hornets last won their region in 1973, though this is something first year head coach Matt Protzman said was not on his players' minds as the team beat Potomac in the 3A South regional final.
"It's very special," Protzman said. "What I love the most is that the players don't even seem to be phased or stressed about how big each of these games are to the program. They just keep coming out and playing their brand of soccer each game."
For Great Mills, that means playing uptempo, with an element of fearlessness. The team has a dynamic front line, a technically sound midfield and a sturdy defense that has plenty of experience playing together.
In terms of personnel, the Hornets have plenty of standouts across the field. Two junior forwards, Michael Salguero and Gabe Ichniowski, have been sensational all season. Salguero's 15 goals leads the team, while Ichniowski is right behind him with 14. The two have also combined for 16 assists.
The forward that has caught fire in the postseason though is Kelvin Coronado. The freshman has already equaled his regular season total of five goals in Great Mills' four playoff contests, having found the back of the net in each game.
Coronado's biggest impact came in the Hornets' sectional final victory against Huntingtown, which was the program's first ever win against the Calvert County School. Great Mills led 3-1 with 10 minutes to play, but Huntingtown fought back to force overtime.
"I definitely was concerned that our boys may have shrunk from the occasion," Protzman said. "But they settled back down and scored the golden goal in dramatic fashion with a beautiful cross the was headed in by Kelvin Coronado."
In the midfield, seniors Marcus Minich and Jay Tracy have stood out. Minich has scored 13 times, while Tracy has three goals and five assists.
Defensively, the Hornets have good speed and are expert at defending individually in the open field. Great Mills has gotten an excellent individual campaign from junior outside back Tucker Protzman, who has provided support to the offense by supplying a team-high 12 assists, while also chipping in five goals. The Hornets' central defensive pairing of juniors Isaiah Wells and Jacy Torres have also played at a high level, while the group is rounded out by goalkeeper Gerig Thoman. The sophomore has made over 130 saves this season, maintaining an 88-percent save percentage.
It's a talented bunch that will have to play to the best of its ability to top Harford County powerhouse C. Milton Wright. The Mustangs have had a sensational season, and are also in search of their program's first ever state title.
Regardless of the outcome on Saturday though, the Hornets will be able to hold their heads high.
"If this group of boys come out and play to the best of their ability, win or lose, it will still be an outstanding achievement," Protzman said. "To be the first school to represent St. Mary's County in a boys soccer championship game is historic. To win that game would be icing on the cake."
|November 16th, 2017||By: Wick Eisenberg|