They did it once, so in their minds they could do it again.
The Broadneck boys soccer players found themselves down a goal with the minutes winding down in regulation. They pressured. They pushed. In the 4A state semifinals they had scored and taken it to overtime, beating Magruder. But in the 4A state finals they fell short, losing to Sherwood, 1-0.
The Bruins pressured Sherwood for much of the second half Saturday, forcing Sherwood's goalkeeper to make saves and come out of the goal to catch long throw-ins and free kicks. Perhaps fittingly, the Bruins' final shot at success came off the foot of sophomore Dylan Reddersen, the team's leading scorer with eight goals this season, and one of their promising players of the future.
He weaved through traffic at the right of the goal, barely getting by defenders for a shot to the bottom right corner that was saved by Sherwood goalkeeper Max Warren -- whom Sherwood Coach Hector Morales called "our savior."
"We played excellent, but when the time came and we needed it, they got a goal and we couldn't finish it off," Reddersen said. "At the end we had a lot of chances; we just couldn't finish it."
Reddersen and the other underclassmen, will have another shot next year. But for those like senior forward Brendan O'Leary, that was it.
"We went on a great run," O'Leary said. "We played the best games of our careers this year. We were surprised to be here, actually. . . . So I think we did great. We played against an awesome team. That goalie was amazing. We played our hardest and that's what we wanted to do. We played our hardest in our last game."
"They were very intense," said Morales, who led the Warriors to their second straight state title, the first time a team has done so since Whitman in 1996-1997. "We give this team a lot of respect. They really came out and played hard and played aggressive. . . . Their speed definitely was on display tonight. But I think they really were more physical than I thought, and that really set a tone early in the match."
Bruins Coach Sean Tettemer, who was a part of Broadneck's last trip to the state finals as a player in 1990, said he could not have been more proud of his team. He said he hoped the players went away with lessons -- not about winning and losing, but about life and the success that hard work and togetherness can create.
"When you get to the championship game all you can ask is that you show up and play like champions, and there's no question we played like champions today," Tettemer said. "Our ultimate goal was to play the best game of the season tonight. And there's no question that we did that."
Broadneck will lose 11 seniors, but will bring back several now-experienced players including Reddersen, junior forward Alex Fernandez and sophomore midfielder Shaun Sorenson.
"There's definitely going to be some losses with 11 seniors leaving, but I think this team is fabulous," O'Leary said. "They're going to play hard all next year. I bet they'll play another postseason like we did this year. And they'll bring it to the states again, I hope."
Broadneck's Alex Fernandez, left, tries to maintain his footing.