BALTIMORE — Meade arrived here Friday eager to make history on the neatly trimmed turf at Loyola University. The Mustangs were ready to put the finishing touches on a banner season.
The Mustangs entered Friday’s Maryland 4A championship match armed with an 11-game winning streak, a region title and a slew of school records. But just like Meade, Perry Hall was playing in its first boys’ soccer championship, and just like the Mustangs, the Gators were on a mission.
Nearly two hours later, Meade’s players sank to the turf, their white jerseys providing a backdrop for Perry Hall’s celebration. Senior Amilka Wurie, who sent the last unsuccessful corner into the box, remained belly-down in the corner. Meade played the final 23 minutes with a man advantage, but wasn’t able to break through and fell, 1-0, on Perry Hall senior Evan Eibner’s first-half strike.
After Perry Hall received a red card midway through the second half, Meade (17-2) had opportunities to tie the game. But the Gators (16-3) kept clearing the ball. With about 10 minutes left, Wurie had a point-blank chance at his feet, but it was deflected.
In the final minutes, desperation set in for Meade. With 2 minutes 6 seconds to go, senior goalie Danny Castillo was tripped up trying to dribble across midfield. The Mustangs kept bringing the pressure in their first state final appearance since 1978.
Thirty seconds remained when Wurie sprinted to the corner. He booted the ball into the box. The Gators, as they had all period, sent it away, and seconds later they were celebrating.
“We’re a family. We’re brothers,” Castillo said. “Every one is hurt. It hurts me, too. But as a big brother, I can’t show that to them. Because I need them to come out harder next year.”
One by one, the Mustangs’ names blared throughout the complex as they were handed their runner-up awards. They walked forward, and shook an officials hand. One by one, they fell to the turf, one final time.