La Plata falls in SMAC title game
Warriors score opening goal, but Raiders rally in second half to win
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