One year after his belated introduction to Maryland's most storied boys' soccer rivalry, Churchill senior midfielder Chris Wielgus took the field for last night's crackling Maryland 4A West Region final against visiting Whitman and gave a performance that fit the occasion. The former Arizona resident had a goal and an assist in an inspiring first-half performance, leading the second-ranked Bulldogs to a 2-1 victory and their first state semifinal since 1999.
Churchill (9-2) will play East champion Old Mill on Monday and is two victories from its seventh state title, which would equal Whitman's total.
The pair's regular season game was canceled, so all the honors and bragging rights were at stake last night in their first regional final meeting in eight years. Wielgus had a clear sense of the occasion, latching onto a loose ball in the second minute and hammering a 20-yard shot past the goalkeeper. Senior forward Aksel Yavalar added a goal in the 23rd minute, poking home Wielgus's incisive cross.
Fifth-ranked Whitman fell to 6-5-1.
"If I have it my way, it would always end in a game like this -- whether you win or lose you know you're going down in the hardest game you've ever played," said Wielgus, who has three goals in the playoffs. "Every time you lace up your boots in practice, it's for moments like these."
In the 4A East final, senior Wijy Jones scored the winning goal off an assist from senior Jason Stern with 9 minutes 14 seconds remaining as Old Mill ousted South River, 1-0, in Edgewater.
Old Mill (14-2-2) also defeated the Seahawks (12-4-2) in the Anne Arundel County championship.
Boateng Leads Hammond
Mark him with four or five guys, harass him, push him to the ground, but don't expect to contain Hammond senior Kwaku Boateng -- especially in the playoffs.
Despite constant attacks from North Hagerstown's defenders, the Golden Bears' All-Met striker converted one of his few chances as Hammond captured its second straight Maryland 2A West Region boys' championship with a 1-0 victory in Columbia.
Boateng scored his seventh goal of the postseason and 15th of the year in the 57th minute. He took a pass from sophomore Steve Basso, turned at the top of the penalty box and blistered a shot past a defender and off the hands of the goalkeeper.
"I try to score in every single game, that's my goal," Boateng said. "The ball just came loose and I took advantage."
River Hill's Risk Pays Off
Coach Bill Stara took one risk in River Hill's 1-0 Maryland 3A East Region final victory over Mount Hebron in Ellicott City, and Victor Argueta made it pay off.
After moving Argueta to forward early in the second half, the junior made a solid run in the 48th minute and found senior Mike Stromberg in front of the net. Stromberg easily tapped the ball in, and his goal stood up as River Hill (14-2-1) earned a berth in the state semifinals.
Mount Hebron, which surprised defending 3A champion Severna Park in a quarterfinal game, dropped to 11-7.
Staff writers Heather A. Dinich and Todd Jacobson and special correspondent Colin Fitzgibbons contributed to this report.