“I was slacking the last few games,” said Carden, who had not scored since May 22. “But I knew today was our last game. I wanted to make the best of it.”
Manassas Park (22-2-1) never trailed, seizing control on Carden’s fourth-minute goal. The forward took a pass from senior Allan Oliva, cut back on a defender and buried an open shot from near the penalty spot.
Junior Jeremias Barrios finished a rebound two minutes later, and Carden scored again late in the half for a three-goal lead. Carden, who plans to play at Ferrum College in the fall, tallied his final goal in the 49th minute, breaking behind the defense on a counter attack for an easy breakaway finish.
“He’s an incredible athlete, but a lot of times he doesn’t put 100 percent in,” Coach Mike Martinez said. “Today he definitely did, he gave 100 percent, and the results showed.”
The Cougars, who needed three overtimes to advance in their Tuesday quarterfinal, managed to hold the lead, fighting off a Northampton rally in the final minutes. Senior Simon Cruz scored in the 79th minute to pull the Yellow Jackets within a goal, and the Region A champion produced another offensive rush seconds later.
But senior goalie Carlos Vasquez dove on the loose ball in the box before Northampton could manage a final shot, and when the final whistle came, Manassas Park players began a subdued celebration, enjoying the second title in program history a year after the first.
“This is the best way to finish,” said Vasquez, a four-year starter in net. “All we wanted was another state championship.”