Grace Chris­tian falls to Takoma in MISAL fi­nal

Boys soc­cer team gives up goal in fi­nal mo­ments of se­cond over­time

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@ somd­news. com Twit­ter: @ aj­ma­son301

UP­PER MARLBORO — Lead­ing 2- 1 after Zachary Wit­tlinger’s it­tlinger’s goal on a penalty kick two min­utes into over­time, Grace Chris­tian Academy looked to be in good po­si­tion to wrap up Satur­day night’s Mary­land In­de­pen­dent Schools Ath­letic League boys soc­cer cham­pi­onship.

How­ever, sopho­more Hen­der­son Ro­driguez saved Takoma Academy’s sea­son when he de­liv­ered the game- ty­ing goal in the clos­ing sec­onds of the first ex­tra pe­riod.

In the fi­nal mo­ments of the se­cond over­time, se­nior David Miongo drib­bled through sev­eral de­fend­ers and nailed a shot at the top of the box past se­nior goal­keeper Elisha Walker to lead the Tigers of Mont­gomery County to a 3- 2 come­back vic­tory over the Knights at Riverdale Bap­tist School in Prnce George’s County.

“We had the lead early in the se­cond half and we slacked off a lit­tle bit, but it was ei­ther go hard or go home, so we came back and in the end I was able to put one away for the team,” Miongo said. “I wanted to give it my all and I trust my team­mates. Hen­der­son’s goal was the big­gest when he tied the game up. I’m glad he put it home and ex­e­cuted.”

It was Takoma’s first MISAL crown since the 2013 sea­son.

Be­fore Satur­day’s an­tic­i­pated MISAL fi­nal, Takoma ( 10- 2- 1 over­all) split the reg­u­lar sea­son se­ries with Grace Chris­tian ( 115- 2).

“For the pro­gram, this was huge for us,” Takoma head coach Brian Brown said. “This shows that we are growing as a soc­cer pro­gram and are stay­ing to­gether as a com­mu­nity. We bat­tled tonight and we never gave up. We wanted this cham­pi­onship.”

A de­fen­sive bat­tle in the first half led to a score­less game at halftime.

Six min­utes into the se­cond half, the scor­ing drought was bro­ken as Ro­driguez as­sisted Men­del Bald­win, who headed the shot into the back of the net.

Later in reg­u­la­tion, the Knights sent all 11 play­ers to the box and Wit­tlinger con­nected on the game- ty­ing header that came from a corner kick from Brady Tip­pett.

“We never thought that we were down. We kept play­ing hard and we had a mis­sion to win. We just came up short,” said Wit­tlinger, a ju­nior.

“Hats off to Takoma. They are a very fast team and I give them all the love and re­spect they played a hard game and I ap­pre­ci­ate their com­pe­ti­tion,” Grace head coach Dan Perotta said. “Un­for­tu­nately, I wish the game could have went the other way, but we were able to get that goal late in the se­cond half to give our­selves a chance.

Perotta, whose Knights de­feated Riverdale Bap­tist in Thurs­day’s semi­fi­nal matchup 2- 1, had a strong run in the MISAL this sea­son con­sid­er­ing that they had a very youth­ful team.

“If you look at are team on pa­per, we had no busi­ness being in the cham­pi­onship. We only had two se­niors out on the field and all the rest sopho­mores, ju­niors and a cou­ple fresh­men, so it was a mir­a­cle that we were even out here, Perotta said. “Tonight we had op­por­tu­ni­ties and we got breaks. We were the No. 1 seed over all in the MISAL tour­na­ment. No one ex­pected us to make it all the way to the cham­pi­onship game. At the end of the day I was proud of our ef­fort and grate­ful to coach th­ese guys.”

Walker fin­ished with 13 saves on the night to keep the Knights in the game. Takoma had 16 shots on goal in the con­test.

“I think that I can stop ev­ery shot when I’m in the box,” Walker said. “I’ve never seen this much pas­sion on one team like we played with. Zach scor­ing the goal on that header was big for us to keep to force over­time.”

Mon­day, Grace re­turned to ac­tion and again it was another thriller as it picked up a 4- 3 home win in over­time over Sal­is­bury Chris­tian of Wi­comico County in the Mary­land Chris­tian Schools Tour­na­ment.

Aaron Ens­minger led the Knights with two goals, while Daniel Goep­ner and Wit­tlinger each scored one goal. Walker had 14 saves in the win.

Grace is sched­uled to play at Mount Airy Chris­tian of Car­roll County in the next round this week.

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