No. 5 Bel Air falls to Walter Johnson, 4-0
The Bel Air boys soccer team spent much of Friday’s Class 4A state final dodging haymakers from Walter Johnson, the topranked team in the Washington area according to The Washington Post.
But after hanging around for more than a half, and nearly pulling even on several occasions, the No. 5 Bobcats eventually succumbed to the Montgomery County power’s constant barrage in a 4-0 loss at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex.
It took three goals in the final 9:53 to end the dreams of a team that had shown a propensity to never give up throughout the playoffs.
“We had them on their heels for 30 minutes,” Bel Air coach Dominic Rose said. “We really felt that the teams we were matching up against underestimated us a little bit. They didn’t realize that we can take a punch … and keep coming at them. [Walter Johnson] hadn’t seen us play yet, so we knew we had something for them, and we did in the second half.”
The Wildcats (17-1) claimed their fourth state title, and first since 2006.
However, it didn’t come as easily as the final score might indicate.
Down 1-0 after the Wildcats’ Aldo Ruiz scored on a bullet from 30 yards out 11:30 before halftime, Bel Air (14-5-1) — which didn’t record its first shot on goal until 3:21 left in the half — began to turn things around.
“We just felt we were a little nervous in the first half,” Rose said. “The field was so big, and it took us a little bit of time to adjust to the size of the field and to really just go out and leave it all out on the field.”
The Bobcats’ best opportunity of the first half came when midfielder Vincent Rose sent a pass to Gray Harper in front, but the heavily defended senior was unable to get off a shot.
Then, after the break, forward Ryan Albright nearly scored twice, but each of his two free kicks caromed off the crossbar — the first off the bottom, bouncing back into play before being cleared away, and the second hitting the top of the bar and sailing out of bounds.
Wildcats goalie David Goodstein then blocked away another point-blank shot by Harper midway through the half.
“We had three or four opportunities, big ones,” Albright said. “When they went off the crossbar, it was a letdown to say the least.”
But Bel Air’s bid to tie the game ended with 9:53 left, when defender Michael Blakeslee came up with the ball near midfield and fed forward Zion Friday, who dribbled three times and beat goalie Cameron Riley one-on-one. Walter Johnson then sealed the win minutes later when Max Yodice scored off a feed from Alex Bukharin with 4:35 left.