Great Mills wins first regional ti­tle in 44 years

Great Mills shuts out Po­tomac to claim first re­gion crown in 44 years

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

OXON HILL — It had been so long since the school’s last trip to the Mary­land Pub­lic Sec­ondary Schools Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion state semi­fi­nals that wait­ing an­other day seemed to hardly phase coaches and play­ers from the Great Mills High School boys soc­cer team.

One day af­ter their sched­uled Class 3A South Re­gion cham­pi­onship game at Po­tomac High School in Oxon Hill was be­lat­edly post­poned on a dreary, rainy day, Great Mills up­ended Po­tomac 3-0 on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon at Oxon Hill High School to of­fi­cially end the Hor­nets’ 44-year drought of re­gion ti­tles.

“We drove to their school [Tues­day] and the field was un­der wa­ter when we got there, but the ref­er­ees did not want to post­pone the game un­til 2:45 [p.m.] be­cause their ath­letic direc­tor still wanted to play the game,” Great Mills heaed coach Matt Protz­man said. “The field was com­pletely un­der wa­ter when we got there.”

Great Mills again made the long com­mute to and from Prince Ge­orge’s County on Wed­nes­day and this time amid the drier, suit­able con­di­tions on the Oxon Hill field turf, the Hor­nets got one goal each from fresh­man Kelvin Coron­ado and juniors Michael Salguero and Tucker Protz­man to cruise to the 3-0 vic­tory.

The Hor­nets (14-3 over­all) is sched­uled to face 3A East Re­gion cham­pion Cen­ten­nial of Howard County at 2:30 p.m. Satur­day at Linganore High School in Fred­er­ick.

Tucker Protz­man scored the last goal of the game with just over 33 min­utes re­main­ing on a free kick and he ap­peared

to score the first goal of the game on a sim­i­lar play in the open­ing minute of the con­test. But af­ter see­ing his shot just elude the out­stretched fin­ger­tips of Po­tomac goal­keeper Miguel Lopez, Tucker Protz­man and his team­mates were per­haps stunned to see his ini­tially tally negated by an off­sides call.

“Ev­ery time I line up to take the free kick I’m look­ing to put the ball on goal,” Tucker Protz­man said. “I usu­ally like to make the goalie make a play on it and if he doesn’t, the ball goes in the net. If he can’t stop the ball, then one of my team­mates can crash the net and get it past him. Af­ter watch­ing him play, we def­i­nitely wanted to chal­lenge their goalie in the sec­ond half.”

Roughly five min­utes af­ter Protz­man’s goal was waved off, Great Mills got on the board when Coron­ado ran down a loose ball in the box and drilled a low shot into the back left cor­ner of the net. Both teams had sev­eral chances to score over the re­main­der of the first half, but the Hor­nets took the 1-0 lead into the in­ter­mis­sion.

In the open­ing stages of the sec­ond half, Great Mills mounted a good of­fen­sive and pushed the ad­van­tage to 2-0 when ju­nior Gabriel Ich­niowski de­liv­ered a soft cen­ter­ing pass to Salguero, who one­timed a low shot past the div­ing Lopez to dou­ble the Hor­nets’ ad­van­tage less than two min­utes into the sec­ond half.

Great Mills was hardly fin­ished at­tack­ing, how­ever, and five min­utes later Tucker Protz­man sent a high, free kick over the Po­tomac de­fend­ers that Lopez failed to catch and the bounc­ing ball just crawled over the goal line be­fore Salguero could head it into the net. The 3-0 lead en­abled the Hor­nets coaches to sub­sti­tute freely, which proved for­tu­itous on two fronts.

Over the last 30 min­utes of the game, Po­tomac play­ers were con­sid­er­ably more ag­gres­sive on slide tack­les and the of­fi­cials handed out three yel­low cards and one red card to the Wolver­ines. Great Mills also gave sev­eral starters a rest and re­serves re­cently pro­moted from the ju­nior var­sity squad got into the game to spell their starters and take the brunt of the Wolver­ines in­tense phys­i­cal play.

“I was only a year old the last time that Great Mills won a re­gion ti­tle in boys soc­cer,” Matt Protz­man said. “There was no way we could play on that field at their place on Tues­day. It would not have been fair to ei­ther team to de­cide the re­gion ti­tle on that field. It was un­der wa­ter and some­one could have got­ten se­ri­ously hurt.”

PHOTO BY STEVEN THOMAN

Great Mills High School fresh­man Kelvin Coron­ado, cen­ter, is con­grat­u­lated by team­mates Mar­cus Minich, left, and Michael Salguero, right, af­ter Coron­ado gave the Hor­nets a 1-0 lead over Po­tomac in the first half of Wed­nes­day’s Class 3A South Re­gion fi­nal. Great Mills even­tu­ally won 3-0.

PHO­TOS BY STEVEN THOMAN

Above, Great Mills High School head boys soc­cer coach Matt Protz­man, stand­ing third from right, talks to his play­ers at half­time of Wed­nes­day’s Class 3A South Re­gion fi­nal game against Po­tomac at Oxon Hill High School. The Hor­nets led 1-0 at the in­ter­mis­sion but even­tu­ally pre­vailed 3-0 to earn a berth in Satur­day’s 3A state semi­fi­nals against Cen­ten­nial High School of Howard County at Linganore High School in Fred­er­ick. Be­low, Great Mills High School’s Gabriel Ich­niowski passes the ball to team­mate Michael Salguero early in the sec­ond half against Po­tomac in Wed­nes­day’s Class 3A South Re­gion fi­nal and Salguero scored the Hor­nets sec­ond goal as Great Mills pre­vailed 3-0 for their first re­gion ti­tle in 44 years.

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