La Plata falls in SMAC ti­tle game

War­riors score open­ing goal, but Raiders rally in sec­ond half to win

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

Just 24 hours prior to Tues­day’s South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con- fer­ence cham­pi­onship game, sever- al play­ers on the Leonard­town boys soccer team asked head coach Dave Hol­land dur­ing prac­tice how long has it been since the pro­gram won a SMAC ti­tle.

And Hol­land said, “It was be­fore you guys got into high school, so we’re due for an­other one. It’s been too long.”

The wait for an­other one ended Tues­day night as Leonard­town cel­e­brated its first ti­tle since 2012 with a 3-1 come-from-be­hind vic­tory over the vis­it­ing La Plata War­riors.

Leonard­town (13-0 over­all), which has al­lowed just six goals all sea­son to go along with seven shutouts, was tested in the first half as it trailed 1-0 at half­time, but it re­sponded by scor­ing three un- an­swered goals in the sec­ond half en route to the vic­tory to stay un­de­feated on the sea­son.

Leonard­town, the SMAC Ch­e­sa­peake Di­vi­sion cham­pion, has the top seed in the Class 4A East Re­gion Sec­tion II bracket and is sched­uled to host the win­ner of Thurs­day’s sec­tion quar­ter­fi­nal matchup be­tween fourth-seeded North Point and fifth-seeded Chop­ti­con in Tues­day’s sec­tion semifi- nals.

“We knew it was a go­ing to be tough. La Plata has a great team and they bat­tled,” Hol­land said. “We played them early in the sea- son (a 9-0 win on Sept. 8), but they are a dif­fer­ent team. It’s been a while since we won SMAC, so to win it all this year is ex­cit­ing.”

La Plata (10-4), the SMAC Po­tomac Di­vi­sion cham­pi­ons, which had its nine-game win streak snapped, mis­fired on key scor­ing chances in the sec­ond half.

“Leonard­town kept pump­ing shots in the box and are a very good team,” La Plata head coach Chris But­ler said. “I’m proud of my boys. We kept fly­ing all over the field, we just had dif­fi­culty clear­ing the ball out in the sec­ond half and they got a lot of re­bounds. They are just a lit­tle bit big­ger, faster and ath­letic than we are.”

The Raiders con­trolled pos­ses­sion in the sec­ond half and tied the game at 1 just past the 10-minute mark of the half when ju­nior Ja­cob Bres­lauer drilled a shot into the

back of the net on a re­bound.

“The ball bounced in front of me and I knew when I took the shot I was go­ing to hit it,” Bres­lauer said. “It feels good to see all of our hard work come true.”

Five min­utes later, Leonard­town took the 2-1 lead af­ter ju­nior Ric­cardo Bagh­ino, an ex­change stu­dent from Italy, con­verted on a shot at the top of the box.

“This has been sim­ply amaz- ing for us to win the con­fer­ence,” Bagh­ino said. “Never say never, we just keep play­ing hard.” With less than two min­utes re­main­ing in the game, sophomore Lukas De­laney capped

off the scor­ing for the Raiders.

“It has been a great sea­son for us. We want to keep it go­ing in the play­offs,” De­laney said.

La Plata got on the board in the 14th minute when se­nior Dy­lan Ogle­tree drib­bled down the right side­line and sent a cross to­wards the goal and ju­nior Seth De­priest-Kessler con­nected on a header inot the right cor­ner of the net.

“That was beau­ti­ful goal and a great cross,” Hol­land said. “We had a lit­tle break­down de­fen­sively in the back and we talked about that at half­time.”

With less than 10 min­utes left in the open­ing half, the game was de­layed for 15 min­utes af-

ter Leonard­town sophomore Andy Hor went down with an in­jury. Hor had to be car­ried off the field on a stretcher and left in an am­bu­lance. There was no word on his con­di­tion as of press time.

La Plata se­nior goal­keeper Bent­ley LeBar­ron had 14 saves, while se­nior goal­keeper Chris Bra­ganca saved six shots for Leonard­town.

La Plata got the top seed in the 2A South Re­gion Sec­tion I bracket and will host the win­ner of Fri­day’s’s sec­tion quar­ter­fi­nal be­tween fourth-seeded Lackey and fifth-seeded Calvert in Tues­day’s sec­tion semi­fi­nals.

La Plata’s Seth De­priest-Kessler con­nected the first goal of the game to put his team up 1-0 in Tues­day’s SMAC cham­pi­onship game at Leonard­town. The Raiders ended up scor­ing three sec­ond-half goals to win the ti­tle, 3-1. PHOTO BY ROB WORMAN

La Plata se­nior goal­keeper Bent­ley LeBar­ron saved 14 shots in a 3-1 loss to Leonard­town in the SMAC cham­pi­onship game Tues­day night. PHOTO BY ROB WORMAN

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