Sherwood's boys' soccer players hadn't finished celebrating the program's second straight Maryland 4A championship Saturday night when the comparisons to last year's team began.
There seemed to be a consensus: This year's team was a bit more balanced.
"We're just way more rounded and even on every part of the ball," junior forward Pat Young said. "Last year, we relied on [All-Met Player of the Year] Michael Rollings a lot to score our goals. This year it was so much more even. No one knew who to mark on our team. That's why we were able to succeed."
Rollings scored 22 goals during his senior season to lead the Warriors to their first state title since 1988. Without a dominant striker to rely on this season, Sherwood (15-3-1) excelled on defense and benefited from several players' solid offensive play.
Young led the team with 14 goals, including the game-winner in the 33rd minute of a 1-0 victory over Broadneck in Saturday's championship game. Senior forward Jabel Prom, the only other player with double-digit goals, had 10.
"I would love to have a Michael Rollings, but this team didn't have a person to rely on," said Coach Hector Morales Jr. "They just found a way to get the ball in the back of the net and that was what set them apart this year."
While Sherwood's offense was sufficiently effective, defense was the team's backbone. The Warriors yielded only eight goals in 18 games and finished the season with eight consecutive shutouts.
Senior leadership was a key to the Warriors' defensive success. Honorable mention All-Met sweeper Peter Young graduated after last season, but seniors David Kerick, Jeff Sandusky and Sam Pettee teamed with junior Erick Alves de Sa to form a stout back line.
"We all work together really well," Kerick said. "This is our third year playing together, so we all know what each other is going to do all the time. It's easy to cover for each other and we know what we're going to do."
Goalkeeper Max Warren, one of 13 seniors on the team, solidified the back during the playoffs. He missed the regular season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, but he took over in the playoffs and did not allow a goal in five games.
"He's been the difference in many of those games with the saves he's had to make and the positions that we've put ourselves in," Morales said of Warren. "He has saved our butts quite a few times."