Mount Vernon won four games in the regular season, and in the first month alone, the Majors were shut out in losses three times. In the second month they dropped four of five matches.
And in the third month? Mount Vernon has been nothing short of magical. Now the Majors have a chance to do what was unthinkable in early May: win a state championship.
Cedric Ekoue scored a goal and assisted teammate Rahim Costa-Dorsey’s go-ahead goal late in the second half to lift Mount Vernon to a 2-1 comeback win over Midlothian in Saturday’s Virginia AAA boys’ soccer semifinal in Chantilly.
The Majors (12-7-1) will meet Cosby, 1-0 winners over Oakton, in Sunday’s state championship game at 2 p.m.
“We had a pretty bad start to the season,” Ekoue said. “But our Coach [Anthony Garza] kept telling us once the [regular] season was over, a new season starts.”
That new season almost ended against powerful Midlothian (14-4-2), which took a lead 10 minutes into the game after Alex Waite booted in a goal following a corner kick. But behind the speed of Costa-Dorsey and forward Simond Kargbo, the Majors were able to dictate the offensive pace and control possession from that moment forward. Ekoue, a first team All-Met, tied the game with 21 minutes remaining, sneaking up from his position as a defender to take a slick pass from Kargbo — which he then shot into the upper right corner of the net from about 15 feet.
Costa-Dorsey, who joined the team late in the season after leaving his club team, McLean Youth Soccer Academy, put away a header that was delivered on a set piece from Ekoue. It was Costa-Dorsey’s ninth goal of the postseason. Mount Vernon is 8-1 in postseason play.
“It’s a great feeling. Here is where my passion is. I just want to play as much soccer as possible,” Costa-Dorsey said. “I just want to give something back to my high school . . . I’m glad we made it this far.”
Already frustrated by a slew of missed offensive opportunities in a Virginia AAA state semifinal against Cosby, Oakton senior Patrick Moore leaned into a left-footed shot just outside the 18-yard box and waited for the breakthrough his team sorely needed.
Moore has converted enough chances from that range to know the feeling of a well-struck shot, and the All-Met midfielder believed the 65th minute blast was ticketed for the back of the net until it struck the crossbar. The attempt became another near-goal in a disappointing 1-0 loss that ended top-ranked Oakton’s bid for an unbeaten season and its first state title.
In the 51st minute, 47 seconds after the Cougars went a man down because of a red card, senior Andrew Michon netted the game’s only goal.
“I thought it was going to dip at the last second,” Moore said of his best chance at the equalizer. “On another day, that’s going top 90, and we’d be celebrating. On this day, it just wasn’t going our way.”
Making its first state semifinal appearance since 2001, Oakton (18-1-2) looked the part of a state title contender most of the way, controlling the action against Central Region champ Cosby in spite of challenging circumstances.
The Cougars had to play the final 30 minutes 44 seconds short-handed when freshman defender Trey Lodge was sent off for picking up his second yellow card. They also lost two starters in the opening half — senior captain Jay Bundren and sophomore Armand Jeffris, the team’s leading scorer — to right leg injuries.
The Titans (17-3-1) only put three shots on net, but they jumped on the Cougars quickly after the red card. Junior Devin Dyer threaded a pass around a defender into space for Michon to break in alone, and the forward deposited a shot from near the penalty spot into the right side of the net.
Oakton Coach Todd Spitalny called it a “bad goal” with his team punished for several breakdowns in the back.
Oakton kept the pressure on Cosby down the stretch, including Moore’s shot off the crossbar. The team had not been shut out this season en route to Concorde District and Northern Region titles, but junior goalie J.C. Fuller made seven saves on Saturday to blank the Cougars and end their hopes for a state crown.
Senior Christian Ollen’s free kick slid harmlessly across the goal mouth with two minutes left, and it turned out to be Oakton’s final chance.
“All you can do is leave it all on the table, and they did that,” Spitalny said. “It [stinks]. We’re the best team in the state and just gave it away.”