Told by Coach Jeff Fritz during practice on Tuesday that he’d make the start in goal for the Montgomery 4A South contest against Wootton 24 hours later, Churchill junior Matt Gloger had a little time to contemplate the most important performance of his varsity career.
“Butterflies,” said Gloger, who has split time in goal this season. “I was so nervous. I had no idea what to do.”
After an anxious wait, Gloger rose to the moment in Churchill’s 12-11 victory; he made one stop after another and finished with 16 saves.
Junior Matt Leonard scored six goals and junior Matt Moshyedi netted the team’s lone fourth-quarter tally, but the Bulldogs couldn’t celebrate victory until Gloger scooped up a loose ball at the edge of the crease with six seconds remaining.
“Every save he just got more and more confident,” said Fritz. “The guys on the sideline were confident in him. . . . He knew where they were going with their shots.”
Churchill, which stopped Wootton’s run of six straight Maryland 4A/3A West Region titles last spring, only survived a rash of late sloppy play this time thanks to Gloger.
Fritz started Gloger on a hunch, sensing his athleticism would be an asset against the Patriots (7-2, 4-1). The goalie said he felt confident once the game began because of his familiarity with several Wootton players who are his teammates on the club circuit.
For the first time in his career, Gloger went the distance in net, closing with a six-save final quarter. That included a close range stop with 1 minute 18 seconds left that preserved the one-goal lead. He didn’t have to face a shot on Wootton’s final chance as the Patriots couldn’t connect on a pass in front of the cage.
“I know most of their shooters,” Gloger said. “I just tried to focus on seeing the ball and stopping the ball.”
For the first three quarters, Churchill (10-0, 5-0) seemed to be playing too well offensively for Wootton to muster a comeback.
Leonard’s six goals came in the game’s first 30 minutes, and a week after scoring nine goals in a win over Whitman, he was on pace to challenge his own single-game scoring mark before he was felled down the stretch by cramps.
But Wootton, which got five goals and two assists from senior Joe Kelly, dominated the fourth quarter, pulling within one twice in the final quarter. Moshyedi had the answer the first time, scoring what turned out to be game-winning goal with 3:31 left off an assist from senior Connor Martin, and the Bulldogs held on.
“It gives us the confidence going into the playoffs,” said Moshyedi, who added two assists. “We’re going to see them again — we know it and they know it. We’re going to have step up even bigger next game.”