No. 4 Mount Hebron falls just short on 2nd-half Urbana goal
In the middle of the second half of a scoreless Class 3A state championship game against No. 4 Mount Hebron on Thursday night, Urbana senior Kyle McQuillen spotted a loose ball a few feet away from him and knew exactly what to do.
“Right as it was up in the air, I was like, ‘I’m not going to lose this ball.’ So I kind of did whatever I had to do to get it back,” McQuillen said. When he did, “the first thing I thought of was to just hit it low and hard across the [6-yard box] like Coach always tells us.”
McQuillen’s cross deflected off a Mount Hebron defender on the near post and into the net with 19:25 left in regulation, giving Urbana a 1-0 victory at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex.
The championship is the first for the Hawks from Frederick County since 2013 and spoiled the Vikings’ bid for their first state title since 2006.
Mount Hebron (16-2), which was outshot 8-5, had controlled the dangerous offensive opportunities Urbana (19-1) had, but the Hawks ended up getting the ball in a prime position when it mattered most and it bounced their way.
“That’s just the breaks in soccer and anybody who watches or plays soccer knows sometimes that’s just what hap- pens,” Vikings coach Mike Linsenmeyer said. “But to [Urbana’s] credit, they had to get behind our back line and whip a ball in. And when that happens, good things happen. I thought our team played very hard and it was pretty evenly matched.”
Neither team managed much offense early in the game. In fact, it took more than 15 minutes for either team to attempt a shot.
“I definitely think there were some nerves to start the game, but it was the hype surrounding the game. I mean, you are playing in a state final and a lot of people haven’t been there,” Urbana senior Trent Tarnstrom said. “For the first 10, 15 or 20 minutes, it was a lot of feeling each other out and I didn’t really feel like either team had a good hold on possession or scoring opportunities.”
Both teams began settling in as the first half wore on. Mount Hebron got its first shot on goal with roughly 15 minutes left before halftime — a header easily stopped by Urbana goalie Riley Barry (two saves).
With just more than five minutes left before halftime, Urbana answered with its best chance of the game until then. On a cross from Kenneth Morales on the right wing, the ball found Dominick Acierno for a one-touch shot that hit the right post.
Urbana kept shutting down the Vikings’ set pieces, while Mount Hebron was holding the Hawks’ high-powered offense — which scored two or more goals in 17 of Mount Hebron’s Johnny Linsenmeyer, left, is consoled by teammate Vince Broccolino after the Vikings lost the state Class 3A championship game to Urbana, 1-0. 20 games this season — in check.
“Really the theme the whole year has been set plays for us and I think set plays was going to be the determining factor for us win or lose,” said Mount Hebron goalie Torey Jones, who finished with five saves. “We had plenty of opportunities off of throws, corners and free kicks and to their credit, they defended them very well. And I thought we defended them very well as well. I think we defended hard.”
Ultimately, the Hawks stayed with their possession- oriented style and began putting more pressure on Mount Hebron’s back line to make plays.
“These guys did a fantastic job, especially as the game wore on, of making sure that when we did have possession, that possession ended with some type of goalscoring opportunity with us in the right positions,” Urbana coach Scott Schartner said.
In the end, being in the right position went a long way.
On the deciding score, Mount Hebron’s Johnny Linsenmeyer had thwarted the attack by knocking the ball away from McQuillen off a free kick by Mike Maier. But the ball wasn’t cleared and McQuillen stayed with the play to eventually send it into the box. The ball glanced off Linsenmeyer’s foot and into the net.
While disappointed, Mount Hebron’s players did their best to keep things in perspective.
“We couldn’t have gotten here without every single person that was on the team. Everybody, whether they got a lot of playing time or not, had an impact on this team,” Jones said. “It’s a great group of guys and every single person has something to remember the rest of their lives.”