After starting for three years at goalkeeper for Marriotts Ridge, Pat Moore lost his future in soccer last February after he was injured in a car accident.
That left Marriotts Ridge Coach Kevin Flynn with two objectives. One, after Moore was medically advised not to play due to what Moore called a “traumatic brain injury,” Flynn still wanted the 17-year-old to serve as a captain on the team, which would entail managerial duties and coaching the goalies. And two, Flynn needed to recruit a new goalkeeper for the 2012 season. He started a school-wide search, and eventually Flynn asked Ryan Miller to man the net for his senior year. Miller hadn’t played soccer since his childhood.
Both Moore and Miller accepted the terms, and both have exceeded expectations in their new roles. Miller has recorded 51 saves for third-ranked Marriotts Ridge (11-0) and has only allowed five goals all season. And more importantly, he’s done it under the guidance of Moore, who has remained the backbone of the squad despite enduring one of the most difficult years of his life.
“You would think that I wouldn’t enjoy it, playing three years on varsity soccer before, winning three state championships, looking forward to my senior year, which was supposed to be the best,” Moore said. “It’s a turned out a lot better than I expected.”
This fall has marked yet another dominant regular season run for Flynn, whose team will face ninth-ranked Centennial (11-0-1) Thursday in both team’s season finale, with the winner taking home the Howard County title. Centennial played to a 1-1 tie with River Hill on Tuesday, and will need to earn a win to secure the championship against the Mustangs.
Marriotts Ridge could clinch with a tie after edging Reservoir 3-2 on Tuesday, thanks to two goals from Nick Applegate. It was the first time Miller had given up more than one goal in a contest this season. Labeled as primarily “a basketball and baseball player, but a great athlete” by Flynn, Miller has learned the position on the fly, helping the Mustangs start the season with seven consecutive shutouts behind a back line that returns most of its starters from a year ago. He will face one of the more potent offensive attacks in Howard County against Centennial, which has outscored opponents 33-5 this season.
“They can beat you in a lot of ways. They’ve got size, they’ve got speed, they pass the ball around really well,” Flynn said. “They’re a championship caliber team.”
Moore will be there Thursday for the showdown, warming up Miller and the younger goalkeepers before the game. He said that it’s a “long shot” that he will be cleared to play in college, and doesn’t rule out coaching in the future. He admits that he is still just 17 and doesn’t know what he wants, except to help his friend Miller perfect the goalkeeping craft and to support his school on another charge toward a state championship.
“There really wasn’t many expectations. We didn’t assume anything, knowing that it was Ryan’s first year on varsity soccer at Marriotts Ridge,” Moore said. “He was coming into a brand new program and he was a new face, especially in a program that has done so well as it has.”
DeMatha, which beat Carroll 7-0 on Tuesday, has outscored opponents 20-1 in the last three games. Arion Assue led the Stags with three goals against Carroll, which marked his third multi-goal game of the season…Gonzaga beat Good Counsel 6-0 on Tuesday, a week after the Falcons upset Paul VI Catholic. Connor Smith scored three goals and Nicholas Corriveau added one goal on six shots for the Eagles…St. Albans took control of the IAC race Tuesday with a 1-0 win over St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes. Michael Sniezek scored the only goal of the game, a chippy contest that included several altercations. Saints Coach Bo Amato said he has suspended two of his players for one game for their roles in the skirmishes Tuesday.
(Records through Tuesday)
1. DeMatha (11-0-1) Last week: 1
2. Gonzaga (13-1-1) LW: 2
3. Marriotts Ridge (11-0) LW: 4
4. Severna Park (13-0) LW: 5
5. St. Albans (11-1-1) LW: 10
6. Walter Johnson (9-1) LW: 3
7. Paul VI Catholic (9-3) LW: 7
8. Wootton (9-1-1) LW: 9
9. Centennial (11-0-1) LW: 6
10. Watkins Mill (8-2) LW: NR