No. 12 Atholton and No. 18 Gwynn Park played going on two hours of hard soccer in the bitter cold in the Maryland Class 2A state semifinals last night at Quince Orchard.
The Raiders won, 2-1, in a shootout that featured 21 penalty kicks.
Atholton (11-3-1) advances to the state final against Fallston (11-1-3), which defeated Overlea by 1-0 in the evening's first game on a goal by Joe Kahl.
The championship will be decided Saturday at Old Mill High School.
Atholton dominated for most of its game, posting a total of 17 corner kicks in regulation and the two 10-minute overtimes.
But it was Gwynn Park that broke the scoreless deadlock on a goal by Kelvin Reaves with 7:53 remaining in regulation.
Reaves connected from about 20 yards out from the center of the field. He was assisted by Shawn Clink, who delivered a pass from the left wing.
The Yellow Jackets mounted a few more scoring opportunities after taking the lead, but Atholton pulled even moments before the final whistle.
With the seconds ticking away, midfielder John Walter volleyed a pass into the net from about 30 yards out.
"I knew we only had a few seconds on the clock," said Walter, who notched his second goal of the season.
"So I knew the only chance we had would be to shoot it then."
Before the ball landed in the corner of the net, just inside the far post, the game scoreboard had already wound down to :00 and members of the jubilant Gwynn Park bench had spilled onto the playing field.
The officials convened at midfield and ruled that :11 still remained in regulation and allowed the goal.
Neither team mounted a serious scoring threat in the two overtime periods.
Atholton kicked first in the shootout. Both teams were perfect after the first four kicks. Gwynn Park goalkeeper Mike Schilling batted away a shot by Greg O'Shea on kick number five.
The Raiders went ahead, 3-2, on a shot by Emmanuel Gyau.
The Raiders pulled even at 3 on a shot by Phil Lazzari. Gwynn Park missed its next two attempts. Successful conversions by David Kelley and Tony Dedmond gave Atholton a 5-3 advantage.
The Yellow Jackets rallied and made their next three attempts to tie it at 6-6.
But Gwynn Park didn't score again. Walter's penalty kick, which hit the post and rolled in, put Atholton up, 7-6. Jeff Jurey of the Yellow Jackets put the ensuing attempt high over the crossbar.
Atholton goalkeeper Kori Hunter made a diving save on Mike Rogers's shot, which could have pulled the teams even at 7. Raiders defender James Waddy hit a hard low shot to the corner, which made it 8-6 and clinched the win.