Right before he set up for his free kick in overtime of Monday’s Maryland 4A West region final, Wootton’s Spiros Tsakos got an unlikely request from his teammate, Danny O’Neil, who had an idea how they could beat Walter Johnson. The quiet O’Neil, who is best known for his role in the midfield, wanted Tsakos to send the kick to the back post so he could make a play on the ball.
It couldn’t have been a better kick from Tsakos, either. The ball dropped in from 25 yards out and landed near the front of the goalkeepers box, just low enough for O’Neil to redirect the kick with his head and into the net to lift Wootton, 1-0, over the Wildcats Monday night in Bethesda.
“We’ve been trying to do it all season. Every time it’s gone over my head . . . I just got a tiny bit on the ball and redirected it,” said O’Neil. “First goal this season. I’ll take credit for it.”
The goal left Walter Johnson’s (14-2) entire team stunned, sitting in their own zone as Wootton celebrated. It was a shocking end to a game that was stale at times Monday, with neither team able to find an offensive rhythm. The Patriots (15-1-1) haven’t won a Maryland 4A title since 1990.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Wootton Coach Doug Schuessler. “We emphasized getting more bodies into the box. Create more panic in front of the goal. Was that the difference on that free kick? . . . I don’t know. But we’ll take it either way.”
Most shots sailed on both teams in the thin November air on Monday, and the game was reminiscent of the defensive struggle that Walter Johnson won 1-0 back on Oct. 5. The second half was book-ended by two odd moments, which also served as the two best offensive chances in regulation. Walter Johnson’s Juan Ortiz booted a a 30-yard bomb that landed on top of the net, and the entire crowd erupted at the rare offensive firework. Wootton had an opportunity to take a 1-0 lead with 13 minutes left, with a cross that flew behind Walter Johnson goalie Ben Meyers. Matt Hoy was in the box to receive the pass, but whiffed on the header.
Hoy, who entered the game with 23 goals, and Walter Johnson’s dynamic striker Jeremy Ebobisse went back and forth, showing the impressive skills that made them two of the regions best offensive players.
But overtime belonged to Tsakos and O’Neil. Meyers had 130 saves this season, but he was handcuffed by the redirection by O’Neil. Schuessler admitted that he didn’t see the goal fully materialize, but knew something special when the “net moved.” On Saturday, the Patriots will meet Perry Hall in a state semifinal.
“I think we built momentum as a team. We never get really disappointed,” said Tsakos. “Soccer is one of those fluky games. The ball can go in anywhere.”. . .
Nickolas Jobst and Gibrill Sheriff scored in Reservoir’s 2-1 win over River Hill in the Maryland 3A East final. The Gators (11-6) will face the winner of Tuesday’s 3A South final in a state semifinal on Saturday.
The win marked a fifth-consecutive Maryland 4A West title for the Barons (12-3), which struggled to generate scoring opportunities and played on their heels for much of the game due to an aggressive and efficient Whitman (12-3) offense. Bethesda-Chevy Chase goalkeeper Angela White came up with a number of crucial saves in the final 20 minutes, including on a low line drive kick from Aliza Wolfe, who had pulled up from about 20-yards out after an open field steal.
Doll’s goal came on one of the rare pushes up field by Bethesda-Chevy Chase Monday. The ball was dropped in from about 40 yards out, and after bouncing off several players inside the box, the Barons’ CC Rozen won possession and dropped off a soft pass for Doll, who went top shelf to the right corner.
Bethesda-Chevy Chase will meet Sherwood (14-1) in the state seminal on Saturday. The Barons lost to Whitman and Sherwood on back-to-back weekends in late October.
“We really wanted it. I know all the girls here are used to getting through this game, and, like, getting the win. But I think it was more like we really wanted to beat this team. They beat us during the season,” said Doll. “It wasn’t the prettiest, in like the first part of the second half. We had the will.”
In Baltimore, Sherwood knocked off Catonsville in penalty kicks, 3-2, to advance to its first state tournament. Senior Nikki Steiner stopped three attempts in the shootout, clinching the victory when she lunged to tip the final shot off the right post.
The Warriors (14-1) allowed an early own goal but tied the game about 10 minutes into the second half on a strike from senior Becca Dunwoody. Neither team could score the rest of the way, and seniors Amanda Pustis and Hope Gouterman and junior Claudia Gomez converted kicks in the shootout.
“We’re peaking right now,” Coach John Vukovich said. “We had some injuries, but the girls really stepped it up and focused. I think they’re pretty happy with the results.” . . .
Defending 3A champion Huntingtown will play in the state tournament for the fourth straight season after beating La Plata, 3-2, in the 3A South final. Junior Kaitlin Hudson scored twice, including the game-winner with about five minutes left in regulation.
The Hurricanes will meet 3A East champ River Hill in a Saturday semifinal. Senior Michaela Hennessy had a goal and an assist as the fourth-ranked Hawks (17-0) beat Atholton, 2-1, on Monday to claim their first region title since 2008.