And yet, the Vikings made it look almost easy this season. On Saturday, they defeated Leonardtown, 3-1, in the Maryland 4A final at Loyola University, capping a second straight season in which they didn’t lose to a local opponent and finished as state champions.
“Every team looks at you as the benchmark,” senior midfielder Ian Poe said. “Even if a team is having a bad season, it’s bragging rights if they defeat the defending state champions. All year we’ve had to play against teams with that in mind.”
It was the 11th championship in program history and the seventh under Greene. The coach finished his 25th season leading the Vikings by lifting another trophy and handing it to another group of delighted players.
Despite their sparkling record, the No. 1 Vikings (17-1-1) found themselves in more than a few tight spots this fall. They won 10 games by just one goal, an exercise in composition that paid off in a thrilling, 4-3 overtime win against No. 2 Wootton in the semifinal.
The No. 4 Raiders presented another challenge: They came to Loyola with a 20-0-0 record and a defense that had conceded just six goals.
But it only took Whitman about 15 minutes to get on the board. A free kick from inside midfield put the ball right in front of net, and it bounced from head to crossbar back to head. That second head belonged to senior defender Hunter Lee, and it gave his team a 1-0 lead.
Another set piece a few minutes later made it to 2-0; senior midfielder Aaron Gunther finished it with a header of his own.
Poe put the game on ice in the second half with another long free kick. His ball from about 40 yards sailed through a crowd and sneaked into the back of the net.
This is the second time in Whitman’s history the team has repeated as state champion. The first back-to-back happened in 1996-97.
“The experience of being a part of two state championship-winning teams has been the best time of my life,” Gunther said. “We’ve been working and working and working for this moment.”