Hylton senior Keith Williams said he cannot remember his coach ever getting doused with the contents of a water jug after a game. Walking on crutches because of a torn Achilles' tendon he suffered in April, Ken Krieger had no chance of evading a postgame shower today.
Moments after junior forward Shaun Krothe's header gave the top-ranked Bulldogs a dramatic, 1-0 victory -- 26 seconds before the game would have gone to a penalty-kick tiebreaker -- several Hylton players taunted Krieger with a large water jug before dumping it over his head. Krieger could not have scripted a better way for his team to win its second straight state title and its fourth in his eight years as coach.
"I was very happy that it ended this way," Krieger said. "I didn't want it to go to penalty kicks."
The Bulldogs' only loss this season came in a penalty-kick tiebreaker against No. 2 Oakton (22-2-1) after the teams played to a 1-1 tie in 110 minutes of the Herndon Spring Break Invitational final.
Krothe, a reserve who said he saw limited time in about eight games this season, played about 20 minutes today and made Krieger's choice look brilliant when redirected Williams's cross under Oakton goalkeeper Mike Pregnall.
"I saw the ball coming and I thought [forward Jonathan Hooker] was going to go up for it, but he left it for me and I just tried to head it down," Krothe said.
In the seconds after the ball crossed the goal line, several Hylton players mobbed Krothe, while several others, exhausted from the grueling match, collapsed while pumping their fists.
The Bulldogs (22-1-1) were able to possess the ball much the same way they did in Friday's 2-0 semifinal victory over Kempsville, but they generated far fewer quality chances and faced more frequent threats from the Cougars' offense.
"At the end of the day, neither team could have put anything else on the field, and that's all you can hope for," Krieger said. "Give all the credit in the world to Oakton. We had a very difficult time against them, like we knew we would. What a team. What a team."
Hylton senior goalkeeper Kevin Larrabee made just five saves in the game, but two of them were critical. He came out to foil Andrew Fishman's point-blank attempt in the 38th minute and stuffed Oakton senior Steve Heitkamp's nine-yard volley in the 46th minute. He also saved Oakton's only shot in the four overtime periods.
"It is a great accomplishment to get this far and have a chance at winning your last game of the season," Oakton Coach T.J. White said. "There is no shame in losing to a team like Hylton. None at all."
In the end, Krothe was the unlikely hero, but Krieger may use him in the future as the poster child for the large roster he keeps and the heavy competition for playing time it creates.
"It just goes to show that any player at any point in time can come in and contribute," Krieger said. "One thing I always tell the kids is I will never give up on them. You never know when you might get your chance and you have to be ready to make the most of it. Today, Shaun got his chance."